Globally, the application of education has enhanced the social, economic, and political development of any economy. Education generally and higher education in particular builds the knowledge of individuals and the society at large (World Bank 1999). Higher education in Nigeria and Africa as a whole is characterized by many lapses to include lack of finance, inadequate learning facilities, dilapidated structures, examination malpractice, incompetent employees, and poor governance. These long existing lapses have been tripled due to more quests for economic knowledge, coupled with the advent of technology, growth in the telecommunication industry and the globalization of trade and business (Salmi 2001). According to the World Bank (1999: 25), “successful development entails more than investing in physical capital, or closing the gap in capital. It also entails acquiring and using knowledge as well as closing the gaps in knowledge”. Therefore, in other to tackle the challenges of development, certain points need to be taken into consideration:

  • Acquired and adapt global knowledge and create knowledge locally.
  • Invest in human capital to increase the ability to absorb and use knowledge; and
  • Invest in technologies to facilitate both acquisition and the absorption of knowledge.

In addition, education entails those skills, and abilities which an adult acquires in other to contribute meaningfully to the development of the society (Fafunwa, 1979:26). From the above definition of education, considering the benefits of education it is therefore expected that government and private individuals will contribute their quota towards the actualization of education benefits. Yet even with the efforts of the government and private investors, the education sector is still clouded with examination malpractice, poor facilities, etc. these causes are linked to factors like government paying less attention to education needs, government and private institutions encouraging low production and poor attitude of students towards their studies.

This study aims at examining the achievements, challenges and prospects of higher education in Nigeria.

Nigeria educational system has made some achievements, though not compared with the problems it has. One of its achievements is that it has the largest number of university in sub-Saharan Africa, though South African’s university enrollment is advanced.

Currently, Nigeria has 40 Federal universities, 23 State universities and 68 Private universities with students from neighboring countries of the world (data from NUC’s homepage). The ministry of education is saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the running of the education sector and supervised by the National Universities Commission (NUC). With Joint Admissions Board (JAMB) controlling admissions into the university A National Education Bank (formerly the Nigerian Student Loan Board) is charged with providing merit scholarships and student loans. No wonder a research carried out by the World Bank about a decade ago has it that with all structures in place in the Nigerian education sector, quality university education can be achieved (World Bank 1988:3).

In practice, the university education grew rapidly and less rationally than anticipated. Admissions into the federal universities increased annually by 13% in 1990 and in 2000 with about 400 000 students (NUC 2000b).

The challenges of higher education in Nigeria include unserious students and examination malpractice, poor parenting and guidance, poor funding, poor orientation and educational standard, and poverty.

However, the prospects for higher education in Nigeria include proper funding, need for research development, widen access and gender equality in education, access to new information and communication technologies.

This study aims at examining the achievements, challenges and prospects of higher education in Nigeria.



The challenges of higher education in Nigeria are far more than the achievements made in the education sector.

Poor funding is a major problem of higher education in Nigeria. The annual budget allocated to the education sector does not meet up with the UNESCO standard of at least 26%, this therefore affects the quality and growth of education in Nigeria.

In addition, corruption is another key problem, as the little allocated to education is embezzled by the key officers of the sector.

Another problem is the issue of lack of teaching and learning facilities. Due to poor funding and embezzlement of funds, facilities that should aid teaching and learning are inadequate; structures are left in dilapidated states, researches are not carried out, etc.

In addition, higher education in Nigeria has cases of unequal access and gender inequality. Some Nigerian youths lack access to education, thereby violating the principles of basic education for all; alongside this wrong notion of females being deprived of education.

All these are some of the problems this study seeks to find solutions to.   


1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY                          

        The major objective of this study is to examine higher education: achievement, challenges and prospects.

                Other specific objectives include:

  1. To examine the relationship between education and economic development of Nigeria.
  2. To know if there is a body saddled with the responsibility of monitoring education finance in Nigeria.
  3. To recommend ways of solving problems of higher education in Nigeria.


1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS                             

        The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

  1. What is the relationship between education and economic development of Nigeria?
  2. Is there a body saddled with the responsibility of monitoring education finance in Nigeria?
  3. What are the ways of solving problems of higher education in Nigeria?


H0:   There is no relationship between education and economic development of Nigeria.

H1:   There is a relationship between education and economic development of Nigeria.



This study is meant inform and educate the general public, the government and tertiary education administrators on the achievements, challenges and prospects of higher education.

This study aims at reminding the government on the need to put right measures in place in other to curb the challenges associated with Nigeria’s higher education. 

Similarly, higher school administrators need to support the policies and programmes of the government in the education sector. 

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.




This study is restricted to higher education in Nigeria: achievements, challenges and prospects.


Limitations of study

  1. 1.        Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
  2. 2.        Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.





HIGHER EDUCATION: Higher education, post-secondary education, or third level education is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after secondary education. Often delivered at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology, higher education is also available through certain college-level institutions, including vocational schools, trade schools, and other career colleges that award academic degrees or professional certifications. Tertiary education at non-degree level is sometimes referred to as further education or continuing education as distinct from higher education.

ACHIEVEMENT: Is something accomplished, especially by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc.; a great or heroic deed.

CHALLENGE: A call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength.

PROSPECT: Is the possibility or likelihood of some future event occurring.






World Bank. (1999). World development report: knowledge for development. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. 251 pages.


National Universities Commission. (2002b). Academic staffing profiles, student enrollment, dropout and graduation rates at Nigerian universities during 1995/96 to 1999/2000 academic years. Unpublished. Abuja, Nigeria: Department of Academic Planning, National Universities Commission.


Fafunwa, L.H. (1979) Investing in All the People. Washington D.C.: Macmillan.


World Bank. (1988). Nigeria: Costs and Financing of Universities. Report No. 6920-UNI. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. 90 pages.



Salmi, Jamil. (2001). Tertiary education in the 21st century: challenges and opportunities. Higher Education Management

13:2, 105-129.


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