The National Universities Commission, NUC, says it is currently processing applications for 303 new private universities to cater for the demand of tertiary education in the country.
The Executive Secretary of NUC, Abubakar Rasheed, made this known at a two-day National Summit on Private Universities on Monday in Abuja.
The summit had as its theme: “Private University Education Delivery in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities.”
Mr Rasheed explained that applications were received from groups of individuals, corporate organisations, foundations and faith-based organisations from all over the country.
The executive secretary, while delivering a lead paper at the maiden edition of the summit, said the country currently had 170 universities out of which 79 were private with 38, representing 48.11 per cent owned by faith-based organisations.
He said 41 universities, representing 51.89 per cent were owned by corporate bodies, foundations or individuals.
He noted that although there were many private universities in the country, most of them were still unable to fulfil their admission quotas as they admitted barely 6 per cent of the total university admissions in the country per session.
He, therefore, said that this challenge was not enough to stop the issuance of licenses, as Nigeria needed more universities to cope with the high demand for university education.
He listed some challenges private universities were faced with to include non-availability of quality infrastructure and facilities, merit-based student admission, staffing and sustainable funding, among others.
Mr Rasheed, however, said the summit was to serve as an avenue for the exchange and promotion of good practices in private university education delivery in Nigeria as well initiating a dialogue on the challenges and opportunities in the subsector.
“The summit aims at supporting the Nigerian government’s effort at developing academic, institutional and executive capacities within the higher education subsector.
“It will also enable it compete effectively and be relevant in an increasingly knowledge-driven world economy,” he said.
Earlier, Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, said that rather than help to solving the problems bedevilling the university system, private universities had complicated the matter.
He said though there were first class private universities performing excellently within their mandates, there were some also that had come to complicate the corruption that was in the system as convocations in some private universities were more like family meetings where only members of the family took charge.