By Oluwafemi Ajanaku
Private universities may soon become ghost towns owing to exorbitant fees charged education-thirsty Nigerians.
Acting Vice Chancellor of Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Prof. Theophilus Olowokure, who raised the red flag yesterday said government’s unbridled certification of new private universities would not solve the country’s education problem but endanger the existence of the old ones.
Prof. Olowokure, at a press conference to herald the ninth convocation ceremony of the institution, warned that existing private universities may go under owing to the high fees charged in such institutions and government’s continuous approval of new private universities, numbering 79 at the last count.
“Licensing new universities is not the answer. It will only sentence some private universities to bankruptcy later. If for political expediency government cannot increase fees in public universities, the clamour for TETFUND intervention in private universities is justified.
“The continual approval of new private universities, on the assumption that there are more students seeking admission has the effect of increasing the total admission capacities of private universities and decline in admission to popular programmes in existing private universities.
“Parents who can afford the private universities’ fees are very few because of the level of poverty in the country,” he said.
Proferring a solution, the Vice Chancellor said: “Unless fees in public universities move closer to those in private universities or there is a phenomenal increase in the average income of the population, the admission problem will remain with us for many years.
“The high frequency which is necessitated by the need to cover high overhead costs has the effect of making parents of prospective students and their wards shun private universities in preference for public universities that charge relatively low fees.
“Government should stop issuing licences to New private universities until admission situation of the existing ones improve significantly,” he suggested.