The university system of education like other levels of formal education mostly evaluates her students’ performance and knowledge attainment by grading. However, the students’ performance is driven by the environment. Thus, a holistic assessment of the university’s environment, in this case Nigeria is worthwhile. Environment in its simplest meaning is the area in which something exists or lives or the totality of the surrounding conditions. Just like it is in the global education ranking, knowing the divisions or tiers of Nigeria universities will be ineluctable to aid this appraisal. This is because according to George Orwell they can never be exact equality in any sphere of existence or creature.
According to the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), there are one hundred and eight universities in Nigeria – Thirty four Federal universities, thirty four State universities and forty private universities. As stated earlier, a near perfect assessment of the Nigerian universities environment on the inequality espousal will therefore be better achieved based on the universities divisions.
First off, I will try to compile a rough guide of Nigerian Universities based on the areas of concentration of this essay; Social Environment, Political Environment, Academic Environment, Infrastructure, Research Opportunities, Cult Activities, Religious Activities, Accommodation, Feeding, Students Unionism, University Administration, Impact of university on host community and the Total Environment of the Universities as follows:
First Division (a)
Pan-African University, Ajah, Lagos.
First Division (b)
University of Illorin, Illorin.
University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos.
University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife.
University of Nigeria, Nssukka.
University of Benin, Benin.
Ahmadu Bello University. Zaria.
University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.
SECOND DIVISION (a)
University of Portharcourt, Portharcourt.
University of Calabar, Calabar.
University of Uyo, Uyo.
Bayero University, Kano.
University of Jos, Jos.
University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri.
Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
University of Abuja, Abuja.
Federal University of Technology, Akure.
Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
Michael Okpara University, Umudike.
Lagos State University, Ojo.
Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho.
Federal University of Technology, Minna.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi.
National Open University of Nigeria
SECOND DIVISION (b)
Igbinedion University, Okada.
Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo.
Bowen University, Benin city.
Benson Idahosa University, Benin.
Caleb University, Ikorodu.
Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti.
American University, Yola.
Delta State University, Abraka.
Federal University, Lokoja.
Federal University, Lafia.
Federal University, Wukari.
Federal University, Dutse.
Federal University, Nduf-Alike.
Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun.
Federal University of Minna, Yola.
Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko.
Ambros Alli University, Ekpoma.
Abia State University,
Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.
Adamawa State University, Mubi.
Evan Enwerem University, Owerri.
Umaru Musa Yaradua University, Katsina.
Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island.
Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida University, Lapai.
Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.
Crawford University, Enugu.
Enugu State University, Enugu.
Crescent University, Lafenwa.
Novena University, Ogume.
Renaissance University, Ojiagu Agbani.
Federal University, Oye-Ekiti.
Federal University, Otuoke and others.
The first division (a) university, Pan-African University also called Lagos Business School might be contended not to make this list, being a business school that doesn’t run undergraduate programmes for now. However, arguing in favour of the above contention is the fact that their accreditation and operations is solely overseen by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC). The gap between the third division universities and other universities is piffling, thus, my grouping them together.
Though man is philosophical accepted to be a social animal, man is not a solitary, and as long as social life survives, self-realization cannot be the supreme principle of ethics – an essential attribute expected from a suppose graduate of any institution. The social environment is simply the culture the student is educated or lives in, the people and institution which the student interact with. With the black continent social status, class and circle segregation, the Nigerian student or ‘wanna be’ student faces some level of inferiority complex as a result of the social environment.
The first division (a) students’ enjoys the experience of the social environment to almost a hundred percent, and it’s usually symbiotic amongst fellow students. This is because to be eligible for admission into this university, the candidate must be an academic highflier and have some reasonable work experience, in Africa, an individual independent grant liberty.
The first division (b) universities social environment is relatively exciting in various measures. In recent years, the universities are filled with ‘children’ in the Nigeria context. This young dude, mostly of ages fifteen to seventeen years makes friends based on fellow students parents social class, ways of fellow peers dressing, speaking, and intellectual capability. This always affects the student negatively since most times, some student claim and pretentiously act to attract their fellow students. Social interaction between students and lecturers alike also favours top grade students of the institution. The low grade students are considered ‘unserious’ and prevised to have bleak future. In this division, sociability is more high-pitched from students of the University of Lagos owing to the commercialized nature of Lagos, the commerce capital city of Nigeria. Commerce improves and betters social environment! The benefitting nature of this division social environment is also spur by the exposure of the lecturers. A good number of them had studied abroad, worked in corporate organization where the customer is king, and a good number are consultants to varied multinationals.
The second division (a) university social environment is relatively profiteering to her students. The environment is enhanced in universities that are located in State capitals and urban areas. Universities of the second division (b) are mostly private universities owned and founded by individuals and organizations. The laissez-faire leadership of these universities makes its social environment to be proportional to the founder’s or organization’s volition, demeanour, exposure and belief system. The social environment is mostly sullen because of the tyrannic trait of the founders who are mostly former government officials and religion bigots. Nigeria, a democratic state reputed for dictatorial leaders. This sullen social environment is solidify by the biblical ‘father-son’ and koranic ‘Allah supremacy’ principle on the part of the organization-found universities.
The third division universities social environment is middling due to their location, her location’s people customs, their theism, tribal tie-up and close-mindedness, poverty level and subconscious blockage for positive change.
The envisaged new world requires a conducive environment for innovation and out-of-box thinking. This conducive environment can only exist by the politics of the land. Education, the major channel to rise from doom to the apex of development is the sole responsibility of any government to her citizenry. Political environment is the state, government and its institutions and legislations and the public and private stakeholders who operate and interact with or influence that system. The stability of the political environment and government will impact on the prioritization of mental health policy in relation to other policies, the funding available to mental health and the time frames in which policies and programmes can be realized. Political environment also includes the political culture i.e. “widely held views, beliefs and attitudes concerning what governments should try to do and how they should operate and the relationship between the citizen and the government. The success of the educational sector will depend on government policy reforms, resource allocation, and motivation for the manpower.
The first division (a) political environment is favourable and leads to ‘complete’ academic experience to the student. This is because the government is not solely responsible for her funding. Her lecturers are well motivated and the internal fight to occupy administrative offices is minimal if not non-existence. This is because most of her lecturers are accomplished professional in their respective fields, and mostly teach for the love of it.
With the inability of most of the first division (b) universities to generate funds internally, and for those that do, lack of accountability has made these division universities to be victims of political instability. Another negative effect of this division ivory towers political environment is her lecturer inconsistency or lack of research after their doctoral thesis. To this end, their vice-chancellor and senate becomes stalwart to federal government stipulation without revolt. Also many of these division administrative officers hobnob with the country democratic-turned autocrats who churned out poor policies. Thus, the political environment is most time of detrimental effect to the student. The most adverse effect of the political environment is felt in state universities because of the autonomy that vest power in the state governors to do what they like. Most times this state Chief Administrator experiment with these universities in the name of policy formulation. Also, the statutory and complete power of the president to appoint the Minister of Education without consultation to the academic community often result to compensating the ruling party loyal members with the portfolio rather than to merited individuals. The effect is better imagined! The disconnection in policy scrutiny between the executive and legislative arm of government also cringe the university political environment.
The case is however different in second division (b) universities because there are private. Their owners who are former government office holders and religion leaders command so much respect and loyalty from their employees and their decisions are binding without revolt. With this factor, the political environment is undeniably favourable.
Measuring the academic environment in the ivory towers will be scientifically justified by balancing the reactant and product of the university equation. The reactant in this case being the knowledge garner in the twelve years of pre-university education, and the product , the rate of knowledge assimilation while in the university. Since the university is suppose to be focused on research, the student’s secondary school experience, commitment, learning culture, and eventual knowledge attainment plays pivotal role in surviving at the university. The first division’s student is mostly at an advantage using this equation, because of the good schools in the urban areas compare to the rural areas where laboratories are non-existence and ‘anybody’ teaches the student any subject. However, because of the freedom in the university, the urban secondary school graduate is most times lost in the river of social activities to the detriment of his studies, while the rural counterpart who is committed succeeds irrespective of his background.
The syllabuses of all Nigerian universities are outdated with exception to first division (a) and some universities in second division (b). This deters any commensurability between what is taught in school and what is applicable in the real world. A defeat of the universities mission! This mission derail adversely affect science and engineering students more. This is because after graduation there are always lost in the ever changing technological and innovative world. The way out for the smart Nigerian student is to acquire updated training relating to his course of studies outside his school walls, and in today global world to read beyond the decades old text books that the lecturers teaches from. Thanks to amazon.com, a Nigerian student can read the same text book a Harvard university student is reading. Personal effort and commitment makes one win the Nigeria educational game.
The education sector like every other sector is a reflection of a nation’s apex and central government. The Nigeria’s infrastructural state is undoubtedly deficit. To this end, the infrastructure of Nigerian universities is very poor, and in some cases it never exists, except classrooms are classified as infrastructure.
The case is comparatively better in the first division universities, this is because the founding fathers of the Nigeria state appreciate and know the impact of quality education then. Then education was given high priority in the national budget compare to now. The inconsistencies in educational reforms with succeeding government have made the first generation universities the first choice to prospective candidates. This is why university of Ibadan choruses the mantra ‘the first and the best’. This however does not mean the first generation universities are at their peak when compared with their global counterpart. In today’s changing world, to remain relevant and compete with the best requires a holistic gear up and pursuing of current changes, mostly infrastructure and informed manpower to handle it. This is lacking in Nigerian universities. This infrastructure deficit highly affects science and engineering courses negatively, these courses are at best science histories. Some second division (b) universities can boost of good infrastructure depending on how wealthy the owner or organization is and his main goal – business venture or impact. The reverse is the case with the remaining universities of the divisions, there can at best be classified as advance secondary schools.
Suffice it to say the infrastructure of the second division (a) and third division is very poor.
The harnessing and scientific research into materials, businesses, men, and production processes is ideally the focus of universities the world over. Research opportunities exist in Nigeria universities, mostly at post graduate level. These opportunities are higher in the first division universities. It is dawning on the country ivory towers that in the academics you either ‘publish or perish, substantiate or suffocate’. Most of the researches are fund from internally generated funds of the universities and international organizations.
The Nigeria government unlike other governments seldom fund research. To gainfully succeed in a research requires beyond the opportunities, the researcher motivation plays an important role. This is lacking amongst African researchers. In the black continent intellectual property is not regarded nor protected, rather material accruement, means of acquiring them irrespective.
Also a hampering factor is the dearth of the manufacturing sector and lack of fund endowment for research and development by the existing multinationals. The multinationals and other indigenous companies instead engage in corporate social responsibilities (CSR) of frivolous impact to national development.
Nevertheless, with the brain drain and apathetic career quest in the academia, universities in the first division are gradually realizing the way out is to boost and promote research opportunities. Most of them now have research fair annually in their academic calendars. For instance, last year the university of Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo University were able to assemble captains of industry and academics in an epochal research fair, while the University of Ibadan gave full scholarship to more than one hundred students for postgraduate study, all to promote research. It’s now a common practice in all universities to award scholarship and other incentives to all first class students to pursue postgraduate studies. Research opportunities in third division and some second division universities are quite trivial due to limited funds.
The history of Nigerian universities cannot be complete without looking at the emergence of the first cult group in one of the first division (b) and first generation universities, Obafemi Awolowo University, regardless of what their initial intention was. With this, I can opine cult activities are part of the Nigeria’s university system. It has become a herculean task pulling out and dispiriting the Nigerian student from this fad, mostly since it birthing in the university system is traced to an erudite scholar like Professor Wole Soyinka – most young aspiring scholars’ role model. The cultism malady is widespread in universities located in the south-east, south-south regions, the rural areas and most recently the northern part of the country.
The first division and most universities in the second division are acquitted courtesy of the drastic shift to the information age weakness. Internet fraud is now the focus for boys and ‘branded’ prostitution girls’ in this universities. This is most common in the universities located in the south-west region of the country. With the innovations in information technology in the global village of today, that has eventually resulted in the emergence of young billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg. The Nigerian student is intuitively aware cult involvement is futile to his future. Cult activities do not exist in high-league private universities (second division [b]) for obvious reasons.
The Nigerian state is reputed globally for religious zealotry, her institutions not left out. The average Nigeria citizen religious devotee is indirectly a violator of the biblical ‘work-faith’ theory. Religious activities are at the peak in Nigerian universities, mostly since it is believed with God all things are possible – so a term paper that worth C grade can miraculously earn an A grade! A religious activity is however basically one of the easiest and best channels to bring students together in the campuses, regardless of their differences. The pat on the back for religious activities in the universities is; is not only faith-based, God or Allah focused, it is a medium for ‘off-course’ knowledge, people, and soft skills knowledge acquisition. They also cater for member’s welfare.
Basically two religious exist in all Nigeria universities, Christianity and Islam. Some of the first division universities have both chapel and mosque to meet students worship needs. In the far south, east and core north universities, though there are always students of various faith, preference is given to Christianity and Islam respectively. The situation is the same in the second division universities, since most of them are faith-based and found. These universities authorities are not to be blame for this single religious tied up and stalemate. It is a national antireligious myopic malady that needs urgent correction.
Shelter is one of the basic needs of man. The importance of accommodation to a student can therefore not be overemphasized. Most Nigerians are victims of poor housing scheme or its non-existence. High proportion of the populace lives in slumps according to a recent study reported by Cable News Network (CNN). This is equally extended to the universities.
The first division (b) universities have vast land without a routine development process and projects. The founding fathers of the first generation universities knowing the importance of accommodation, figured in good hostel building plans but succeeding government have totally dwindle the plan. These universities – Ahmadu Bello University, University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Nigeria, and a few others have good hostels that are moderately priced. The problem with these hostels is; many have existed for decades without renovation. This has left these hostels crumble and many uninhabitable. No renovation. The situation is better in second division (b) universities, being newly built, the facilities still blossoms. Staying in them is an awesome experience to the student, though very expensive. The way out most times has always been to rent accommodation around the school locale.
Behavioral psychologists assert “an empty stomach cannot carry a loaded head”. A student needs not just food, but balance diet to perform at his optimum.
Tuition of universities in the first division (b) and second division universities is quite cheap. Having gotten accommodation, feeding becomes the major hurdle to surmount while journeying the university road. The Nigerian student survives by mostly patronizing food vendors on campus. The unhygienic state of the hostels, lacking food preserving equipments, and erratic power supply deter students from cooking their own food in the hostels. Deplorable. The abandoning of the agricultural sector since the country’s democratic dispensation and most recently fuel subsidy removal have made food struggle on campus a very strenuous activity and experience. It is however light in schools located in rural areas where agriculture is still slimly appreciated. The feeding hurdle in the universities will pose a serious problem to a dieter.
The aims and objectives of student unions in Nigeria is to protect the general welfare and interest of students, promote the moral, social, academic, and intellectual interest of its member. Cherish, Uphold and further the highest traditions of the university, ensure and provide its members with a healthy academic environment suitable for the pursuit of well rounded education in order to develop as responsible citizens, to promote and foster friendly relationship with other student’s bodies within and outside Nigeria whose aims are acceptable to the union.
All universities in Nigeria have student unions usually called Student Union Government (SUG). The union has it pros and cons to both the student and institution. The union checked the university administration abysmal decision on students.
One major problem always encountered is the student leader’s maltreatment of their fellow students which they are suppose to represent. Man is guilty of the sin of pride. They see themselves as leaders rather than servants. On the bright side, its existence encourages students to work hard academically since in most cases the benchmark to shoot for a portfolio is academic grandness. For instance in my school, the University of Lagos, the minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) for eligibility is 3.5 out of 5. Taking part in the activities or administration of the student union give the student a participatory role by vestment of some responsibilities in the overall success of the academic administration. A priceless fortification for the future. Government policy contributors, not bystander.
The unions report to the dean of student affairs.
According to Nigeria Education Act, on university administration. The visitor which is usually the president tops the ivory tower administrative ladder, followed by the minister of education. However, the highest principal officer of the university is the chancellor, he presides at convocation ceremonies and other awards giving function. On the mellow rung of the ladder is the pro-chancellor, who chairs the university governing council – the apex decision making body.
The day to day academic affairs and other activities of the university is the responsibility of the senate. The helmsman of the senate is usually the vice-chancellor. He is the university chief administrator. Next on the ladder rungs is the registrar. He is the principal administrative officer and secretary to the governing council.
The financial proceedings, regulations, disbursement of funds, and treasury services are piloted by a chief financial officer, the bursar.
The act recognizes and prioritizes the university librarian. The library is the academic heart beat of the university system. A well equipped library is the fundamental need of the scholar, so the need for a good library and a manager, the librarian is inevitable.
To maintain law and order on campus, ensure students and staffs’ security is the delegation of a security unit usually headed by a chief security officer (CSO).
The administration does not succeed by the work of the administrators at the top alone. It’s an all people’s effort beginning from course representatives, class governors, head of departments, deans, and heads of non-academic ventures on campus.
IMPACT OF UNIVERSITY ON HOST COMMUNITIES
Affirming with the maxim “education is the undisputed and unrefined light”. The positive impacts of Nigeria’s universities to her host communities are many and varied. For enterprising universities, employment opportunities are created for the communities inhabitants. Commerce is highly favoured since students from every part of the country get into the universities every year to start a new life with many needs. Where they are human need, wealth acquisition chances are extremely certain with innovation.
Host communities also see other people’s culture, believe, and way of doing things from different part of the country and other countries. Seeing is believing. When a host community sees better ways of doing things, they are motivated and encouraged to further their education. Solutions are proffer to the problems of the host communities. Most scholars carry out research on these problems. Their positive result becomes the people’s problem solution.
In a noise polluted environment like is typical in Nigeria, lawlessness and poor customer service as predominant in the Nigerian state. Host communities see a different side of the coin, because the above oddities are minimal and in most cases seldom exist in the university community because of their learning and enlightenment. Ignorance is bliss. Where it exists, it’s due to ego, not ignorance like it is outside the academic community.
Total Environment of the Universities
From the aforementioned areas of concentration of this essay, the Nigeria Universities total environment is varied characterized. The student requires extra doggedness to survive and complete his programme of study. The environment is that of fun and humdrum. The experience is relatively better in first division and second division universities compared to the woes of inadequacies, and insufficiency the entirety of the Nigeria state citizenry experiences. For instance stable electricity, treated water, hygienic environment, discounted groceries are not ‘unreachable’ in the universities community like it is outside of it.
The university environment also remolds the fresh scholar who is coming from homes that do not value nor engage in physical exercises by constant mobility from hostels to library, lecture venues, worship centers, et al. The environment is as well filled with numerous opportunities for enterprising students, though myopic students seldom see 2it.
One major problem in most universities in the country is the lack of counseling unit or departments and committed professionals, albeit some universities run Guidance and Counselling as a degree course. The Nigerian student is most times allowed to be the captain of his ship for good or bad. It is interesting to know that the popular ‘never visited and unknown on your own (OYO) republic’ mantra emanated from the university system. Not good.
Man drive and shape the environment, with the brain drain in the country, more in the academic. The envisage product – leaders of tomorrow rout in the education process because the laboratory – environment of this reaction is fundamentally and scientifically despicable. The lecturer-student, management-ruled relationship is for now below average.
Globally, juvenile delinquencies have climaxed with surging technological innovation, Nigeria not excluded. The law abiding nature and structure of these universities have nascence a new commandment of “commit and be punish or don’t and be free” to her students. This has helped in reducing these delinquencies to the barest minimum.
Having assessed the Nigeria universities environment, a restructuring is inevitable. To do this, the following should suffice. A paradigm shift in respect of formulation of strategic vision and plan for an implementation that address the issue of environment for teaching and research, funding and funding sources, and a governance system that manages efficiently resource inflow and outflow while promoting the culture of the universities. Government and the universities should also focus quality staffing, teaching, research, and community service.