Private vs Public Universities in Nigeria: The Ongoing Debate

Rahama Obadak
Marketing & Comms, Flexisaf

The debate has been on for a while about which type of Nigerian Universities is better - Private universities or Public universities?We asked this question on Twitter a while back and the answer was a little different from what we expected

Let's end this debate once and for all. In terms of Quality and Standard of Education in Nigeria, Which is the best bet? Please Vote & RT

— FlexiSAF (@FlexiSAF) September 7, 2017

Follow us on Twitter so you don't miss another weekly pollRegardless of what the poll suggests, graduates of private universities in Nigeria still believe they are better off. They claim that graduates from private owned institutions receive a better quality education and are more employable than those who passed through public institutions. These claims are supported by job recruiting (middle man) companies like Stutern and Jobberman.One popular reason why the quality of education is suggested to be higher in private institutions is that due to the high fees (compared to public universities), the number of students are often much less than in public universities. Consequently, they are able to have fewer students per class and all facilities in general are able to go round more evenly.Another thing is that these private institutions are not affected by labor union strikes which plague our public higher institutions. So a student is guaranteed to complete their education hitch-free, if they can survive the overly harsh rules and regulations that are often applied in these private universities.But of course, those who attend public universities have their own strong reasons why they claim to be better off. The age and prestige of most of these public institutions is a major factor, coupled with the experience of lecturers & alumni staff. This leads a lot of people to insist that standards of learning are higher in public universities. Especially because students who may have failed JAMB and can't get into public institutions often find it easy to gain admission into private universities.

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Moreover, students and alumni of public universities seem to take pride in the hardships they go through; viewing it as character building. Many of these hardships, however are simply a consequence of lack of proper record management, shortage of committed staff and the refusal to automate several core processes that can be easily managed using a system like SRMS

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Putting sentiments aside, it is clear that this private universities vs public universities debate is a losing one for both sides. From the poll above, 68% out of 94 respondents believe that attending a university abroad is the best option, in terms of quality education. This shows that one thing most people agree on is that both private and public academic universities in Nigeria are not good enough. Instead of wasting time debating which is better or worse, it would be much better to try and find workable solutions for both sectors of our education system to address common/pertinent problems.First and foremost, neither public nor private institutions receive nearly enough funding to carry out serious academic studies, practicals and processes worthy of providing a competitive/world class tertiary education.Another thing is the inability of staff to focus on and prioritize productivity and create adequate time for learning. This is often due to them being saddled with redundant admin tasks which end up taking a center stage.What other common problem can you think of that needs to be addressed in both public and private universities? Comment below