The emergence of the Private university initiative in Nigeria in 1999 during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, brought about sanity into the Nigerian university educational system. The development has led to the resuscitation of academic stability, quality education, skills acquisitions and character upright in the system.
The private university system has created learning environment centres, where graduates can be found worthy in knowledge and in character. On this note, if the Federal Government would review its policy on the eligibility of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) financial aid access opportunity to also private tertiary institutions in the country, the development would go a long way to enhance performance and quality education delivery of private institutions in Nigeria at merit level.
This was the submission of the Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Registrars of Private Universities in Nigeria (CVCRPUN), Professor Timothy Olagbemiro at the 2021 Annual General Conference of the committee held at Bowen University, Iwo, on Thursday.
According to him, the administration of tertiary education is capital intensive and it would need final support from the government in terms of grant aid for the universities, loans and scholarships for our students. He noted that private universities are operating in financial harsh environments, as each of them relied solely on tuitions for survival.
He said: “CVCRPUN members meet annually to brainstorm on the progress of our universities across the country. Part of our mission is to share experiences to ensure that all our campuses are well-kept and also ensure that our academic programmes are of a good standard.”
Speaking in the same vein on the occasion, the host university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joshua Ogunwole, declared that the act that established TETFUND did not accommodate private universities in its intervention programme because of the limited private institutions in the country then.
He noted that there is an urgent need for TETFUND to review its policy because of the increasing number of private universities in the country.
According to him, today, Nigeria has nothing less than 80 private universities spread across the country. These private universities he said, were adequately supporting the government to employ labour and also to provide quality education, which is one of the cardinal programmes of the government.
“In this regard, it will be appropriate that government will consider the private institutions, especially in providing research support for the development of our country.
Dr Ayo Popoola, who represented the Executive Secretary of the fund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro, reiterated that the law that established the fund did not include the private sector but was strictly meant for public tertiary institutions to improve on their dilapidated infrastructures.
According to him, TETFUND is coming up with a new policy that will be more research-based in its financial intervention projects. He said the fund is establishing a foundation to be known as the National Research Development Fund, a platform that would be access able to all researchers, individuals corporate bodies and institutions, public or private, for research that would be tailored towards the national development of Nigeria.
He noted that the foundation will be hosting what he called Research Innovation Development and enterprise Fund from which all eligible researchers in the country can access funds to execute their applied research work from all the sectors of the economy. “This is the new dimension open to private, public institutions and the stakeholders in the country,” he said.