Four new private universities were on Tuesday in Abuja granted provisional approval by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence academic programmes.
The Federal Executive Council approved the establishment of the four private universities in January.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, presented the provisional licences to the universities in Abuja.
The universities are: Greenfield University, Kaduna State; Dominion University Ibadan; Trinity University Laloko, Ogun State and Westland University, Iwo, Osun State.
He said issue of access to university education in the country continued to pose serious challenges, noting that it requires continuous effort to address.
The minister, who was represented by Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, said the emergence of private universities had provided an environment for heavy competition that stimulates improvement in quality service delivery.
Adamu said the approval was a clear manifestation of the continued mutual partnership between the government and private sector to ensure the provision of quality education in the country.
The minister explained that private universities in the country had contributed immensely to the opening up of access to education over the past 20 years.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the provisional licence for the four universities to operate is intended to create room for mentoring and qualitative growth within the first three years of their operations.
“During the probation period, the four universities will be attached to older generation universities for academic and administrative mentoring.
“It should also be noted that substantive licence will only be issued to the universities if they are adjudged of being worthy of it after the three years of probation.”
NUC’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, said the four universities had been under its scrutiny since 2006.
Rasheed said that there was need to increase the number of universities, taking into consideration the country’s increasing population.
He added that with the country’s population, only about two million students can access university education.
The NUC Boss said: “Only less than 6 per cent students’ enrolment is in private universities.
“We hope the NUC work closely with you to ensure we introduce courses that are more attractive to prospective students and more appropriate to our current move to reposition the education system in Nigeria.
“All over the world, private initiatives are welcome. Proper education cannot be handled by government alone.
“The NUC is not ready to sacrifice quality on the altar of access; we must ensure adherence to quality; we do not want to encourage you to run the university with impunity.”
Rasheed added that the commission was currently processing about 270 applications.
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Dominion University, Bishop Taiwo Adelakun, who spoke on behalf of other beneficiaries, appreciated the commission for the approval and pledged to keep to the mandate establishing the universities.
With the approval, Nigeria has 173 universities, out of which 79 of them are private.