Education

Academic dons laud FG’s approval of 20 private varsities

By Faith Igbudu

Some academic dons have lauded the recent decision by the Federal Government to approve 20 private universities in the country, in addition to the already existing 79 which has brought the number to 99.

While some university erudite academics have described the action by the federal government as a step in the right direction because it will provide more opportunities to university applicants, others have kicked against it, saying most universities are challenged by shortage of staff and lack of infrastructure.

Pro-Chancellor, Benue State University (BSU), Prof. Zachary Gundu, in an interview with The Voice stated that with approval of additional universities, more people will have access to higher education. He noted that the existing universities were finding it difficult to cope with the number of applicants.

“Yes, the action is a good one. We need more universities in the country. Take statistics of those who want access to the university every year and those who do not have access, at the end of the day, you will discover that we are not even up to half of the people who are qualified. If we have more universities, it will do the education system some good,” he said.

On whether the employment ratio matches the educational qualification ratio, Prof. Zack said the essence of acquiring education is not to get qualification to work but to be a better person in the society and to stand greater chances in life.

“You go to the university not only to come out and look for a job or work for government, you go to the university to study and improve the quality of life. So if the curriculum is good, one can come out and even create jobs,” he said.

Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture (FAUM), Makurdi, Prof. Richard Kimbir, has said although the federal government may have acted within the ambit of the law, if given a say, he will advise against the decision.

“We have enough universities but we don’t have teachers and we don’t have the necessary infrastructure. We should concentrate on what we have and improve them rather than having plenty universities.

“But maybe the government is overwhelmed with funding the public universities and has decided to bring in the private sector to help them, otherwise, I don’t see any reason for the approval,” he posited.

Similarly, renowned lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering, FAUM, Prof. Gabriel Igwue, said: “I don’t feel very comfortable with the approval as we don’t have enough lecturers. Somany universities without the required manpower is not what I think should happen. We should concentrate on the existing universities and have more people man them.

“On the other hand, the population is growing and we need to train our people, having more universities will create the opportunity for more people to be trained,” he added.

In another reaction, Head of Psychology Department, BSU, Prof. Ihaji O. Ihaji expressed dismay to what he called “political move.”

“The approval is more of a political move than logical reason. These private universities are under-staffed and rely heavily on the teachers in the public schools with skyrocketing fees.  They have few students not forgetting that they have poor remuneration for their staff. Everything about the new universities has been poorly handled,” he said.

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