The Federal Government has approved the establishment of two new universities, bringing the number of private universities to 149 and a total number of universities in the country to 274.

The institutions are Lighthouse University, Evbuobanosa, Edo State and the African School of Economics, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Speaking at the presentation of Provisional Licences to the two universities in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said the two universities were approved by President Bola Tinubu at the December 13, 2023 Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

Mamman charged the proprietors of the universities to capture skills and entrepreneurship courses, which are the current thinking of the present government.

He said that a substantive licence would be issued to the universities three years after the probation only if they met the requirements of quality assurance.

He, therefore, warned that the provisional licences may be withdrawn after three years probation if they fail to meet the full requirements.

“As you are probably aware, Nigeria currently has the largest economy in Africa with great potential. The country’s population is forecasted to increase up to four hundred million by the year 2050.

“This should therefore evoke a sense of urgency in preparation to cater for the needs of this anticipated population.

“Government being well aware that education holds the key to the preparation we speak of, will continue to welcome partnership with the private sector, especially in the area of university education.

“As long as the gap of access to University education continues to widen and the enrolment of students in excess of the standard carrying capacity of the Nigerian University System persists, government will continue to welcome proposals for the funding and infrastructural development,” he said.

On quality assurance, Mamman urged the universities to maintain the highest standards in the adoption of best practices.

He advised that upon commencement of academic activities, the universities should sustain funding towards improving infrastructure, equipment for teaching and learning, as well as human resources up to a level that would earn them full accreditation.

On certificate racketeering, he warned that the ministry would go after anyone with fake university certificates with the wrath of the law.

Earlier, the Acting Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Chris Maiyaki, said private universities bring certain uniqueness to the Nigerian university landscape.

Maiyaki noted that while the commission encouraged the innovative posture of some of these private universities, the Ministry of Education, through the Commission, embarked on radical reengineering of curricula to meet best global standards.

“It is also pertinent that the establishment of more private universities, under the strict supervision of the NUC is an important antidote to the proliferation of illegal universities or degree mills across the country.

“I wish to enjoin you to acquaint yourselves with the code of governance for private universities which aims to enhance the successful running and sustainability of institutions.

“It has been further reviewed to give some latitude to the proprietors on the issue of appointment of principle officers .

“We continue to reemphasised and stress that the venture of establishing private universities is not for profit, it is a social service and a journey of passion,” he stated.

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