Private Varsities And Their First Class Honours | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Private Varsities And Their First Class Honours

Posted: Jul 6, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Many private universities in Nigeria today are noticeably churning out a flood of first class graduates every academic session. Some have, within their few years of existence, beaten the records of all Nigeria’s first generation universities put together in this regard. Even with the comparatively few students in these private universities, they still parade many graduates with superlative performance who end up with first class grades. It does appear that first class grade now has a new interpretation. It is good news to produce many first class materials if only on merit. In time past, merit was the criterion and it was most desirable. But from observation, the story is now different.

Before private universities came into existence in Nigeria, the few first class products around could not be hidden. They shone everywhere. Not anymore. The quality of most of today’s so-called first class graduates, particularly from private universities, has taken an embarrassing nose dive. The certificate they flaunt is merely worth the paper on which the grade is printed. A more worrisome trend is the seeming competition among these private universities to produce first class graduates. We wonder if there is any point to make with such frivolities.

It is common knowledge that most students in private universities are there because they did not meet the academic requirement of public universities. Some are pushed there by their parents who feel embarrassed with their children’s long stay at home, while just a few are there for the reason of avoiding long strikes often embarked upon in public universities by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) and other union within the university environment. How this calibre of students now come out with first class grades is appalling. Producing a mass of first class graduates is not a measure of the quality of these private universities. The modern structures and high profile facilities which dot their campuses are not the yardstick either. These are desirable no doubt, but the standard of universities is evaluated from their students’ performance after graduation. This is what people see and it is the most important.

We are aware that some federal universities now discriminate against lecturers who got their doctorate from private universities in Nigeria. They slash their ranks if they must join them. Also, some companies prefer to hire graduates from public universities with the compelling belief that they will be more effective on their desks. Some even put a distinction between candidates from public and private universities right there during the interview. This ought not to be if the standard of grading in all universities is uniform. The Federal Government could not have contemplated this anomaly while approving the establishment of private universities; neither could the Nigerian Universities Commission, NUC, have imagined these abnormalities before accrediting courses for the private ones.

The inability of public universities to accommodate the surging number of admission-seeking candidates led to the establishment of private universities. And when they were given operational licences, the objective was to make them meet this dire need and not compromise the traditional qualities which most of the existing public ones already had. Most private universities today are not producing total persons in their graduates and that is why certain concerns choose to call them glorified secondary schools. This is a great challenge which the NUC must rise up to address. There is an urgent need to reappraise Nigeria’s tertiary education system with a view to making it more functional. Government should clarify what exactly they want to achieve with Nigeria’s educational system, but we earnestly suggest that it should incorporate human capital development.