The Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Kayode Soremekun, speaks with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU about university education, and the establishment of private universities, among other issues.
Do you subscribe to the claim in some quarters that proliferation of private universities has reduced the quality of university education in the country?
Let me begin by saying that it is not always good enough to generalise issues. The fact that you have an expansion in the number of private universities does not mean that the quality has declined necessarily. I, for one can speak from personal experience. In the course of my career, I have worked in one of the private universities and it is possible for me to say that private universities have added value to the Nigerian university system. Then, it will be unfair to say that the establishment has led to decline in the quality of graduates and scholarship. Some of these universities have continued to hold their heads.
For instance, in Covenant University, the facilities there are top rated and the living condition of the staff and students is of great quality.
Having said that, there is a downside in the sense that some of the private universities seem to be in the doldrums by not pulling their weight. I think in the course of time, market forces will sort out such universities.
Again, another point to note is that with the establishment of private universities, some fundamental issues have been thrown up which policy makers have to contend with and appreciate. There is great demand for university education, but in contrast effective demand is not yet there. Many people desire university education, but many still lack the capacity to fund it. Nigeria is still a poor country and few parents could afford to pay N500,000 as tuition. They are willing to have their children educated, but effective demand is not being met. In the process, many entrepreneurs have started universities only to realise that the number of students are not there.
There are few universities that have that number, while others are merely struggling probably for demographic space.