In a live interview with Mr. Olakunle Balogun of Eagle FM on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, the Vice-Chancellor of Hallmark University, Professor Segun Odunola, discussed the challenges and contributions of private universities to higher education in Nigeria. He emphasised that higher education is essentially the same, whether in a public or private university setting. Prof. Odunola also stated that private university education has been a growing global trend, with private investment playing a significant role in advancing university education in Nigeria. Additionally, he noted that private universities have been contributing to the nation’s economy and expanding access to tertiary education. Furthermore, Prof. Odunola noted that in a country like Nigeria, where private universities outnumber governmentowned ones, it is challenging to deny their contributions to the national economy, particularly in terms of manpower development. He also expressed his belief that private universities have excelled in the field of educational development.
Prof. Segun Odunola highlighted the remarkable strides made by private investors in developing university education in Nigeria, which has helped address the multifaceted problems faced by public universities in the country. He also discussed the need for government support to ensure quality services and promote economic growth through manpower development. He expressed his dissatisfaction with certain government policies, such as heavy taxation, and dispelled the misconception that private universities are highly profitable. He also criticised the marginalisation of students attending private universities in the recently approved student loan bill, emphasising the importance of equal access to funding for all students, regardless of the type of institution they attend. He suggested that the government reconsider this policy and mentioned that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Registrars of Private Universities in Nigeria already has a position paper on the issue. Prof. Odunola also addressed the need for private institutions to receive interventions from TETFUND, emphasizing that discriminatory policies among citizens are unfair. The Vice-Chancellor also discussed the university curriculum and clarified that the National Universities Commission (NUC) is responsible for reviewing the curriculum to meet current societal needs. He highlighted improvements in teaching scope, depth, facilities, and delivery, dispelling the notion that the curriculum has remained unchanged for years. He also debunked claims about the proliferation of private universities and the admission of unqualified students. He explained that admissions are done through Jamb, with strict adherence to laid-down rules and qualifications. He mentioned a collaboration between the National Universities Commission, Jamb, and NYSC to regulate the admissions process. Prof. Odunola further discussed various issues, including university autonomy, the degree versus HND dichotomy, unemployment, the deplorable state of government facilities, the provision of basic amenities, and the geological impact of drilling boreholes. He called on those in power to ensure the provision of basic amenities for all Nigerians. This insightful discussion by the Hallmark University Vice-Chancellor sheds light on the vital role of private universities in shaping the future of higher education in Nigeria. As the country faces ongoing challenges in the education sector, the contributions of private universities play a critical role in ensuring that Nigerian university education is on par with that of developed.