Public Policy and Enhancement of Access in Private Universities in Nigeria

Isaac N. Obasi, Rosemary C. Akuchie, Susan N. Obasi


The licensing of private universities in Nigeria in 1999 was a milestone in the development of higher education in Nigeria. Prior to that, public policy gave the federal and state governments the monopoly to establish and run higher education institutions. During this period also, enrollment into the existing public universities was very low accounting for not more than an average of 15% of the total number of those who applied for admission into the universities each academic session. Consequently, one of the major reasons for the liberalization of ownership of higher education institutions and the eventual licensing of private universities in 1999, was to expand access into the universities. However, evidence does not seem to suggest that this important policy goal has been achieved. For example, during the first decade (1999-2009), the enrollment data from 30 private universities which had enrolled students (by 2007), suggests that public policy failed to effectively use private universities to expand access as private universities contributed only 3.4% of total enrollment into the universities, and this rose to 5% in 2009 with 41 private universities. However, in the first half of the second decade (2010-2013) the enrollment contribution of 50 private universities increased reasonably as they accounted for 10.4% of total enrollment. But even with this increased contribution, existing public policy enablers have failed to serve as catalyst for rapid enhancement of access in private universities. Based on this therefore, new critical policy enablers for expanding access are identified and recommended.

Key Words: Public policy, public policy enablers, higher education access, private universities in Nigeria.

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