The Federal Executive Council has approved the establishment of four new private universities in Nigeria. The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who announced the approvals while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the first meeting of the council this year, said the new universities are Greenfield University, Kaduna; Dominion University, Ibadan Oyo State;Trinity University, Ogun State and Westland University in Iwo, Osun State. Mr Adamu said the approvals were given because all the four universities have met the criterion for establishing a university following a visitation by the National Universities Commission (NUC). The approvals bring the number of private universities in Nigeria to 79. The NUC had in August 2018 said it was processing over 200 applications for new private universities in the country. Before today’s approval, the total number of universities in the country, with over 150 million population, was 160 (40 federal universities, 45 state-owned universities and 75 private universities). The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Abubakar Rasheed, said the available universities — private, federal and states could no longer cope with the large numbers of yearly applications for admission. Christine Ikpeme, a professor from the University of Calabar told PREMIUM TIMES at the time that the idea of such a high number of private universities is good, but that they should be better regulated. “Some private universities engage in sharp practices whereby they ‘rent’ lecturers from other institutions during accreditation processes,” she said. “This is not ideal.” Private universities were first licensed in Nigeria in 1999 when Babcock University, Igbinedion University and Madonna University were approved. One more – Bowen University- was approved in 2001 before Benson Idahosa University, Covenant University and Pan-Atlantic University were added a year later. The number has since ballooned with the federal government approving, in 2017, Admiralty Univerity, Ibusa, Delta State; Spiritan University, Nneochi, Abia State; Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan; Pamo University of Medical Sciences, Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Atiba University, Oyo State; and Eko University of Medical and Health Sciences, Lagos. Skyline University, Kano, was the only one licensed in 2017. REQUIREMENTS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN NIGERIA Application, in writing, stating the intent for the establishment of the University (Step 1) Interested applicants are expected to apply in writing, to the Executive Secretary, NUC, stating the intent for the establishment of the university. The declaration of intent should include, in brief, the name of the proposed University, the location, the mission and vision, the nature of the proposed university and its proposed focal niche in the current Nigerian University System, etc. Interview of Promoters to Ascertain their Seriousness (Step 2) Collection of Application Forms (step 3) Following due consideration of the application in writing, individuals or corporate bodies seeking to establish a private university are expected to send a representative to come to the Commission with the prescribed payment to collect a set of ten (10) application forms in person. Upon collection of the forms, copies of guidelines and other requirements are also given for proper guidance. Other clarifications are also sought and given as appropriate. Submission of Application Forms and Relevant Documents (step 4) The completed application forms are forwarded with a non-refundable processing fee in Bank Draft addressed to NUC along with one or more of the following documents, if ready: * Draft Academic Brief; * Draft Physical Masterplan; * Draft University Law; * Counterpart Deed of Assignment; * Certificate of Incorporation/Registration of Proprietors (accompanied with Articles and Memorandum of Association); * Deed of Assignment/Certificate of Occupancy; * Letter of Available Liquid Cash; and * Bank Guarantee of Funds to the tune of N200 Million from a reputable Bank. It is usually advised that the last two documents should not be procured by the applicant until processing of the application has reached an advanced stage. Submission should also be at the instance of the Directorate of Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU). Interactive Meeting of DEPU with the proposed university (Step 5) Normally, DEPU invites the members of the Planning & Implementation Committee of the proposed university to NUC for an interactive meeting as a prelude to the first verification visit to its campus site. During the meeting, the process of documentation and other matters bordering on university governance are discussed and many grey areas are resolved. The meeting also affords the proposed university the opportunity to interact with the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive of NUC and his Management team for words of advice and encouragement. Also, a seminar presentation is delivered to avail the prospective Proprietors of the basic philosophy of universities and their societal roles. Completion of Submission of Outstanding relevant documents (Step 6) The Proprietors of the private Universities who had submitted part of the relevant documents are expected to make full submissions at this stage. The relevant documents include the draft Academic Briefs, draft Masterplan and the draft University Law. Intensive Review/Analysis of Documents by experts in Relevant NUC Departments (Step 7) Following submission of the completed application forms and relevant documents, the documents are forwarded to the professional Departments for analysis after which their comments and observations on such documents are sent to the Committee for onward transmission to the proposed university. For instance, Academic Brief and Masterplan documents are forwarded to the Department of Academic Standards. The legal documents such as the University Law, Counterpart Deed of Assignment, Certificate of Incorporation/Registration and Deed of Assignment/Certificate of Occupancy are usually forwarded to the Legal Unit of the Office of the Executive Secretary. First Verification Visit (Step 8) DEPU undertakes a verification visit to the proposed university to review their documents with them on a one-on-one basis and to assess the level of preparedness in terms of documentation. During this visit, inspection of physical facilities is also undertaken to ascertain their adequacy for the proposed Colleges for the first phase. In addition, courtesy calls are paid to the government establishments that provide infrastructural facilities such as electricity, water and telecommunication including the traditional rulers and local government headquarters of where the proposed university is located. These visits are undertaken to solicit the support of the host community for the proposed university and also let them know that a university is being proposed in that area. This visit is considered very important as it reveals whether the Proprietor is committed to the project and is a prerequisite to the final verification visit. Revision of Documentation by Proprietors based on Report by DEPU of NUC (Step 9) Following the first visit, the proposed university is expected to revise its documents and undertake the modifications of its facilities to reflect the prescriptions given during the visit. The revised documents are forwarded to NUC for assessment of compliance. If found that progress has been made in that direction, the second (final) verification visit is scheduled to the proposed university. Second Verification Visit (Step 10) This is expected to be the final visit to the proposed university, depending on the level of compliance with the given prescriptions. As a result, the documents are reviewed along with the Planning & Implementation Committee with a view to perfecting them to bring them to an acceptable level. The evidence of available liquid cash documents is inspected and analyzed by the financial expert on the Committee. The Bank Guarantee of Fund to the tune of N200 million will also be sighted along with other legal documents for eventual submission to NUC. Final inspection of physical facilities is also carried out to ascertain whether they are in consonance with the approved NUC norms. Security Screening of Proprietors and Board of Trustees (Step 11) The purpose of screening the proprietor (Promoter) and members of Board of Trustees of the proposed universities is to enable the Government to ascertain the credibility of those who are sponsoring the university project and to ensure that they are not persons of questionable character. Approval By NUC Management (Step 12) DEPU, on return to NUC from the final verification visit, writes a comprehensive report with scores to the NUC Management for its consideration and further necessary action. Approval By NUC Board (Step 13) The NUC Management, upon receipt of DEPU report on the proposed university, considers and makes appropriate recommendation to the University Development Committee (UDC) of the NUC Board for its consideration after which the latter submits it to the Board for ratification. The Board, thereafter, forwards its recommendation to the Federal Government through the Honourable Minister of Education for its consideration and approval. Approval by Federal Executive Council (Step 14) The Federal Executive Council considers the recommendations of the NUC Board and Security report on the proposed university’s Promoters. If approved, a three-year Provisional Licence is granted the Proprietor. Only satisfactory performance during the probationary period will earn the Proprietor a substantive License.
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