Education is viable tool for the growth and development of an economy; it is the right of everyone to have education. Higher education drives national development. There are higher chances of people with higher education to gain employment compared to those who have not. Education in Nigeria has suffered a lot of challenges resulting from the students, lecturers (teachers) and the government. Its greatest challenge is inadequate funding of the educational system of Nigeria. Oni (1978) drives this point home further when he stated that education is one of the basic means of human and cultural self-realization as well as a means of realizing the productive power of a nation. According to him, development is determined through the standard of living of the people. Culture varies from society to society; therefore each society has its way of training and educating its populace. For instance, the Greek define an educated person to be one who is mentally and physically sound. The Romans laid emphasis on training.

In spite of global re-awakening however, higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa still leaves much to be desired. Confusion, commotion, turmoil, disorder, unrest, instability; in short turbulence, does aptly describe the situation. Challenges are all pervasive, from enrolment and access, to quality, to relevance, to the even more fundamental issues of funding and inadequacy of learning infrastructure and staff shortages for teaching and research.

In West Africa in particular, more serious effort backed by strong political will is required for wide ranging reforms to reposition higher education and make it play its appropriate role in the transformation of our national economies.

To a considerable extent, policy flip-flop has been responsible for the turbulence in our tertiary education sector. From the immediate post-independence zeal by emergent post-colonial regimes in the 1960’s to invest in tertiary education to provide manpower requirements of “national development”, we saw from the mid-1980’s to the late 1990’s almost a complete reversal and de-prioritization; driven by the World Bank’s argument that Africa did not need tertiary education and its emphasis on “rolling back the state” under the structural adjustment programmes. Under SAPs, our tertiary institutions in general, and universities in particular were thrown into turmoil; characterized by gross under funding, erosion of university autonomy, constricted access, declining quality, brain-drain and perpetual instability fueled by incessant staff strikes.

Since the mid-2000, we seem to have come full circle, with the World Bank’s commissioned reports urging that higher education needs to be given priority to enhance Africa’s “technological catch-up” (Bloom, Canning, and Chan 2006). With the mantra of increasing access, the doors have been thrown wide open for the role of private sector in tertiary education provisioning, and to distance learning and internationalization. The field of higher education is now de-regulated and is literally crowded with all sorts of providers: the good, the bad and the ugly. Given prevailing systemic and

Institutional weaknesses and the absence of demonstrable political will for effective regulatory frameworks in most of our countries, the crowded terrain of higher education provisioning has thrown up its own additional challenges.

Presently, University system in Africa in general, and in West Africa in particular, is yet to recover from the crisis, which has engulfed it since the late 1980’s. Colonial education policies laid the foundation for crisis in the system; but post-colonial state policies, prodded by the World Bank, catalyzed, perpetrated and perpetuated the crisis.

Meanwhile, the World Bank continues to do too little too late. The challenges of recovery from this crisis are enormous; but they have to be confronted and overcome to enable Africa not only make giant strides in “technological catch-up”, but especially to expand opportunities for economic growth and strengthen the foundation for sustainable development.

This study aims at examining university education in Nigeria: growth, problems and prospects. 


The growth of university education in Nigeria is hampered by a lot of factors ranging from

  • lack of funds,
  • dilapidated structures,
  • inadequate teaching and learning facilities,
  • incessant strikes,
  • poor implementation of education policies,
  • lack of research and training of staff (Tettey 2010),
  • exam malpractice

        These are some of the problems militating against the growth of university education in Nigeria.


1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY                          

        The major objective of this study is to examine University education in Nigeria: growth, problems and prospect.

Other specific objectives include:               

a)   To determine the relationship between growth of university education and national development.

b)   To examine ways of improving university education in Nigeria.

c)     To investigate the constraints of university education in Nigeria.


        The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

a)   What is the relationship between growth of university education and national development?

b)   What are the ways of improving university education in Nigeria?

c)   What are the constraints of university education in Nigeria?

1.5   RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS                  

H0:   There is no relationship between the growth of university education and national development.

H1:   There is a relationship between the growth of university education and national development.


This study aims at informing, educating and sensitizing the general public, school administrators and government on university education in Nigeria: growth, problems and prospects.

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 University education in Nigeria: growth, problems 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.





UNIVERSITY EDUCATION: Higher (or tertiary) education and research which grants academic degrees in various subjects. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.

GROWTH: This refers to a positive change in size, and/or maturation, often over a period of time

PROBLEM: Is a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.

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



Oni, A. R. (1978). The Role of Business Education in a Developing Economy. Business Education Journal 1(3).


Bloom, D., D. Canning and K. Chan, “Higher Education and Economic Development in Africa”, 2006.


Tettey, W., Challenges of developing and retaining the next

generation of academics: deficits in academic staff capacity at African Universities. Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, 2010.

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