Despite crackdowns and repeated warnings against the establishment and operation of illegal universities by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the threat has not been sufficiently contained. Instead of slowing down, Nigerians are inundated every year with a long list of illegal universities located across the country. The other day, the NUC warned that “anyone who attends or obtains a certificate from any of these illegal institutions does so at their own risk.” According to NUC, “Certificates obtained from these sources will not be recognized for NYSC, employment and further education purposes.”
Despite NUC’s stern warning, business continues as usual for the operators of illegal diploma factories scattered across the country. Others even grow in parts of the country. In a recent NUC statement, the number of illegal universities or âdegree factoriesâ was estimated at 58. It is very likely that the number could be higher than the NUC figures. We say this because NUC apparently isn’t doing enough to stop the ugly phenomenon.
Some of the illegal degree factories are: University of Accounting and Management Studies, Christians of Charity American University of Science and Technology, Nkpor, Anambra State, University of Industry, Yaba, Lagos, University of Science applied and management, Port Novo, Republic of Benin with campuses in Nigeria, Blacksmith University, Awka and Royal University, Izhia, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
Others include University of Atlanta, Anyigba, Kogi State, United Christian University, Macotis Campus, Imo State, United Nigeria University College, Okija, Anambra State , Samuel Ahmadu University, Makurdi, Benue State, UNESCO University, Ndoni, Rivers State and Saint Augustine University. of technology, Jos, Plateau State.
The proliferation of illegal universities, a current threat to university education and national development, has also placed Nigeria in the unenviable league of countries with the largest number of such institutions in the world. A recent report shows that while the United States is ranked first, Nigeria is second. This development should be of great concern to the NUC, the federal government and other stakeholders in the country’s higher education system.
The existence of illegal universities further underscored the country’s university education crisis caused by the lack of admission places in public universities, underfunding and lack of facilities, including manpower. work and equipment in universities. Why do some Nigerians attend illegal universities when existing universities are not meeting their carrying capacity?
High pass marks at public universities, exorbitant tuition fees charged by private universities, course preferences and ignorance could be responsible for the unease. Since there is a high demand for university education, some astute Nigerians have intervened negatively to fill the gap in university admission. These intelligent Nigerians and their foreign collaborators do so only for profit reasons and not because they are interested in developing university education or producing quality graduates and intellectuals.
Illegal universities abound in the country simply because the NUC has not sufficiently sanctioned the promoters of such institutions. Their promoters were treated like sacred cows, hence the phenomenal growth of these degree mills. To curb the threat, it is time for the federal government and the NUC to wave the big stick and shut down these illegal institutions. In addition to shutting them down, the government must pass laws, if they do not exist, to now confiscate the assets of these illegal schools.
For so long the government has treated this issue with glove or indifference. Since it is illegal for people to establish and operate unregistered universities, the government should muster the will to apprehend and prosecute their owners and obtain convictions. This is probably the best way to deter other unscrupulous Nigerians from engaging in such illegality.
The proliferation of diploma factories is a threat to university education and national development. The NUC should abandon the annual ritual of regaling Nigerians from the list of illegal universities operating without too much restraint across the country. Instead of announcing their existence, NUC must go ahead and curb those behind such an unhealthy practice. The NUC should use its powers to curb the threat before more damage is done to our university education system.