The study examined the effect of gender on academic performance of students in Nigerian public and private universities.  The research work provides more insight to academic performance, gender, gender and academic performance, and factors contributing to academic performance among undergraduates. Self determination theory was used for the study.

The study adopted survey research design and interview. The data was analyzed using statistical package for the social sciences, (SPSS). The study makes use of the descriptive analysis to achieve the mean, frequency distribution and percentage results of the responses from the instrument. The secondary data was analyzed using the statistical tools such as regression analysis and analysis of variance (ANOVA).

The findings revealed that: Adequate funding of the Nigerian University will enhance academic performance of students;  having too many universities will reduces the quality of the academic performance of students; there should be strict monitoring of the academic programmes of the Nigerian Universities by the appropriate regulatory agency to enhance academic performance of students; collaboration and international linkage between foreign universities and Nigerian universities will enhance the academic performance of students. Secondly, regular class attendance enhances academic performance; proper time management by students enhances academic performance; proper teaching methods ensures good academic performance of students; further reading and quality research papers enhances academic performance of students. Thirdly, private universities students pay money or engage in sexual activities to earn their grades; the incessant strike action in public universities lead to poor academic performance;  teachers in the private universities are not qualified to teach in a university system; the curriculum of private universities are not as much as that of public universities in Nigeria. And lastly, their school provide them with a serene environment for effective learning;  their school has the basic infrastructures such as school buildings, well ventilated classrooms, libraries needed to enhance student academic performance; their school is equipped with experiences and quality teaching staff; majority of the respondents like their classroom learning condition.

The results from the interview on what should be done to enhance academic performance in their university was revealed that, the adoption of appropriate teaching method, a positive mental attitude, paying more attention in classroom and having the ability to ask questions, attending tutorial, provision of serene and well ventilated lecturer rooms and finally, it was observed that, government should ensure that lecturers are adequately paid towards boosting their morale for lecturing.

The study concludes that, in order to enhance the academic performance of students in both private and public universities, government should ensure that equal opportunities and learning activities are accorded to both genders in our universities (that is, no gender should be given any special treatment), institution should ensure the provision of basic infrastructures such as libraries, ICT facilities, etc., and that the government should ensure the provision of adequate learning and instructional facilities, as well as the adequate compensation of lecturers in order to boost academic performance of students.

The study further recommends that: Government should put in place adequate machinery to always inspect the universities;. Universities management should improve lecturers working conditions by increasing their numeration and fringe benefits to motivate them for work;. government should as a matter of necessity equip all government or public universities with the basic amenities such as classrooms, libraries, ICT, water, and lights etc;. lecturers should adopt the appropriate and suitable teaching method that will enhance effective teaching in classrooms towards student academic performance;. students should on their own part attend classrooms regularly, pay attention to lectures, consult the library for further research and course assignment;. the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) should ensure that the management of private universities in Nigeria should ensure that they provide the basic facilities needed to enhance students’ academic performance.




1.1. Background of the Study

Education is seen as the first step for every human endeavour as it plays an important role in the development of human capital as well as a person’s well-being and opportunities for better-living. Education in Nigeria is the responsibility of the ministry of education where by one of the aims of the ministry is to guarantee quality education system in the county. Schools whether public or private have a number of stakeholders undertaking certain activities. The youth population has been described as the future of the nation, which suggests that the wellbeing and development of any nation lies on the resourcefulness of her youth population, (Nwangwu, 2000). There is therefore a need for nations to pay adequate attention to the development of youths, and one important way to achieve this feat is through quality education.

According to Adams (2012), education improves the capabilities of individuals, the capacities of institutions, and serves as a catalyst for the closely interrelated economic, social, cultural and demographic changes that culminate in national development. This implies that any nation that aims at sustainable development and improved quality of life for her citizens must invest in quality education. Therefore, the importance of education plays a crucial role in public administration and as well as other disciplines.

Academic performance is the quality and quantity of knowledge, skills, techniques and positive attitudes, behavior and philosophy that students achieve or acquire. This achievement is evaluated by the mark or grade that students attain in a term or education cycle, (Ali, 2013). The quality of grades and the number of students that pass in the various grades determine the level of academic performance. Academic performance is the most important issue to teachers, parents, guardians and students, as well as other public stakeholders in the education sector of a country. This issue cuts across all school subjects and all levels in the education system such as the primary, secondary and tertiary. A high academic performance for any class of students is an indication of learning effectiveness while poor academic performance, on the other hand, is an indication that the learning process is everything but effective. There are many reasons behind the desire to achieve academic performance. Some students, for instance, seek self-satisfaction or want to demonstrate their competences while other students try to achieve high academic performance to satisfy their parents or teachers by showing them that they’re making efforts and working hard, (O’Reilly & McNamara, 2017).

Gender differences in academic achievement of students in public and private universities have been of great concern to researchers and education policy makers, both local and international. It is one of the current academic issues under deliberations all over the world, (Abdu-Raheem, 2017). Gender has been identified as one of the factors that affect students’ academic performance. However, Olaoye and Adu (2015) reported that no significant difference exists in academic performance of students as a result of gender, however there is a significant difference between the academic performance of students in public and private universities in Nigeria. Gender is a specially constructed phenomenon that is brought about as society ascribes diverse roles, duties, behaviours, and mannerisms to the two sexes, (Mangvwat, 2015).

According to Betiku (2012), gender entails all the characteristics or traits of male and female, which a particular society has determined and assigned each sex. Talabi, Emiola & Ogunsakin (2013), the importance of studying performance in regard to gender is centered primarily on the socio-cultural differences between girls and boys. A number of vocations and professions have been seen as men’s such as engineering, arts and crafts, agriculture and so on, while others as women’s like catering, typing, nursing, and so on. In reality, parents assign task like car washing, grass cutting, bulbs fixing, ladders climbing to fix or remove things and so on to the boys, Umeoduagu (2015). As a result, an average Nigerian girl would go to school with these fixed stereotypes. In view of the belief that students’ gender may have impact on the students’ academic performance, this research will study the relationship between them if any.

Public universities are supported and controlled by the government of the state. Adeyinka (2010) stated that public universities are those schools that were established, managed, financed, as well as supervised by the government. He further opined that those schools were established with the tax payer's money in order to educate the generality of the people irrespective of their economic, social or political status in the society. Public universities are neither controlled by individuals, private interest groups, or agencies but by the government. After the creation of Nigeria, all the schools that were established were under the management and control of either the federal and state government. Mojeeb Alabi in National mirror of September 23rd 2012 opined that History as a subject seems to be receiving less attention; he attributed the problem to constant changes in government policy. He stated that Nigeria's educational policy is seriously unfriendly to local contents in the curriculum, this notwithstanding, lack of adequate funding, poor teachers salary among others adversely affect the teaching and learning in most public schools.

As a result of the above, private individuals, private groups and organizations started to establish, manage and finance private schools to educate children and also make profit. The owners and proprietors of those private schools are profit earners due to the fact that they invested their money in building the schools, providing all the necessary facilities and equipment, employment of qualified and competent teachers for the purpose of giving good education to the children and also making profits. These private schools include in their curriculum all the subjects especially those not done in public schools. Nwangwu (2012) stated that the private schools offer what the public schools cannot provide and that they relive parents the burden of having their children stay at home for long periods of time as a result of continuous strikes by teachers in the public schools. He stated that private schools run without disruption in the schools calendar thereby providing steady and quality education unlike the public schools. Okpara (2015) observed that in NECO Examinations, the performances of students in private schools are better than the performance of students in public schools. He also stated that private schools are closely monitored and supervised by the school management boards, as a result; they perform better in external examinations.

The issue with students’ under-performance in our universities today in Nigeria has been a much discussed educational issue. In solving any issue however, it is important to understand the causes of such issues. Many causes have been studied as the etiological starting point for interrogating the phenomena of school failure or success. These causes are looked into from various perspectives such as the role of the students, teachers, parents or family, school environment, society, government and so on. Notable works among these are effects of: students’ study habits (Ayodele & Adebiyi, 2013; Obasoro & Ayodele 2012), school environment (Adesoji & Olatunbosun, 2008; Okoro, 2004), teachers’ competencies (Akiri & Ugborugbo, 2011), parents’ economic status (Osonwa et al, 2013), continuous assessment (Kolawole & Ala, 2014; Okwu & Orum, 2012), educational funding (Ugwulashi, 2012). Nonetheless, there seems to be agreement among most scholars to give explanation failure from a multi-causal perspective where the phenomenon is analyzed at different levels, and where multiple variables are involved.

Some of these scholars pointed out that, there is no significant gender difference in students’ academic performance and retention in different subjects while other scholars found significant difference with either the boys or the girls performing extremely better, Nneji (2011) & Amosun (2011). So many factors led to the varied conclusions arrived at by all scholars. Some of such factors are campaign for, understanding and implementation of gender equality in the study area. Osakwe (2011), Nigeria has been the site of several kingdoms and comprises of numerous tribes with diverse socio-cultural backgrounds and believes system, therefore, campaign, understanding and implementation of gender equality in different parts of the country varies from place to place.

Another reason for the varied conclusion is the subject on which the gender equality is being measured on Akinsola (2007). For instance, there has been global concern about gender differences in students’ academic performance in mathematics and some researchers have been undertaken in several parts of the globe in this respect. Although some scholars have found that there are no significant differences in male-female mathematics performance at any level, most have identified gender differences (Atovigba, 2012).

The foregoing shows that gender effect on academic performance of public and private universities has been a controversial issue that requires further investigation in specific subject areas. This is why the issue has been attracting attention from researchers and psychologists in recent times. It is advocated that both male and female students should be given equal opportunities in education and allowed to participate actively in teaching and learning situations. This process is believed to help students take charge of their learning so as to enhance their performance irrespective of gender. It is on this background that this stud will examine the effect of gender on academic achievement of students in private and public universities in Nigeria.

1.2. Statement of the Research Problem

Education is regarded as a crucial factor for every human endeavour irrespective of the gender, color, ethnic or tribe, as it plays a prominent role in the development of human and as well as a person’s well-being and opportunities for better-living. In Nigeria, the provision of quality and enhanced education lies with the Federal Ministry of Education who is given the constitutional right to address the educational system be it a private or public institution. In order for the Ministry and the country in general to achieve the educational goal, it is required that there is provision for good learning and infrastructural facilities, well equipped laboratories, conducive classroom environment, instructional materials, lecturers are well paid and as well as the provision of a fair playing ground irrespective of the gender for everyone to have equal chances of receiving quality learning and achieve academic excellence.

However, the problem with the educational system in the country is the persistent rate of students’ under-performance both in private and public universities in Nigeria, which can be attributed to; sex for grade, low quality and moral of lecturers, money for grade, overcrowded lecture room, inadequate instructional and learning facilities, parents inability to provide their children with money for textbooks and handouts, and other school requirements, (Oguniji, 2011). The above problems as asserted by Oguniji (2011) can be seen clearly in many of our universities today in Nigeria, which calls for urgent intervention by the Ministry and other public stakeholders.

Furthermore, research conducted by Ali (2013) and Adesoji and Olatunbosun (2008) shows that most of the learning institutions in Nigeria have witnessed high enrollment of students leading to large classes that have overwhelmed the teaching force, which is quite rampant in most public universities in Nigeria. As a result, performance of students will continue to drop. Conversely, private universities on the other hand, have an edge over their counterparts as they are more organized in terms of students’ enrolment and teaching/learning facilities, and these enable them to “poach” bright students from the public schools who end up scoring high marks in national examinations.

Good performances in private universities have not only attracted many parents but as well left the public wondering what secret could be behind their success. Despite government investing heavily in public schools, not much in terms of performance is yet realized. Therefore, in order to find answers to these, the study will look into the effect of academic performance on gender in Private and Public Nigerian Universities, using Babcock University and University of Lagos as the case study.



1.3. Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is to examine the effect of gender on academic performance of students in Nigerian public and private universities, while the specific objectives will be to:

  1. examine the state of the Nigerian University System;
  2. interrogate the factors that could lead to academic performance;
  3. analyze the ongoing debate about academic performance between private and public universities;
  4. appraise institutional effort at ensuring conducive learning environment for academic performance in private and public universities.

1.4. Research Questions

The following research questions were posed for the study.

  1. What is the state of the Nigerian University System?
  2. What are the factors that could lead to students’ academic performance?
  3. What is the ongoing debate about academic performance between private and public universities?
  4. To what extent is institutional effort at ensuring conducive learning environment for academic performance in private and public universities?

1.5. Significance of the Study

This importance of this study is to examine the effect of gender and academic performance of students in Nigerian public and private universities. The findings from this study will help to highlight those areas where there are discrepancies between private and public universities, and thus will be of great benefit to the management of institutions, government, public stakeholders, parents, and society at large. Therefore, it is hoped that the findings of this study will prompt the government to enhance the conditions of learning and encourage effective learning, especially in our tertiary institutions. It is of importance to the lecturer, as it will enable them to design suitable methods of teaching and to make the subject they teach more relevant, interesting and meaningful to the students or learners.

Furthermore, it is hoped that this findings may encourage competition among students and arouse interest among male and female in their studies. This study will also enable the parents to realize the importance of guidance and counseling in our tertiary institutions so as to enable their children choose courses on the basis of their own ability or capacity, and with the aim of contributing toward the development of the nation’s building. Finally, the study may stimulate further interest and research on the topic at hand.

1.6. Scope of the Study

This scope of this study is limited to Babcock University and University of Lagos representing both private and public universities in South-West part of Nigeria, and upon the study topic which centered on gender and academic performance of public and private Nigerian universities. The study covers period of 2015-2020, (6years period).

1.7. Operational Definition of Terms

Gender: is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity.

Academic Performance: is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has attained their short or long-term educational goals.

Curriculum: is defined as the totality of student experiences that occur in the educational process.

Gender Stereotypes: are the beliefs that people have about the characteristics of males and females.

Private University: is usually not operated by government, although many receive tax breaks, public student loans and grants.

Public University: is a university that is in state ownership or receives significant public funds through a national or sub-national government, as opposed to private university.

Lecturers: a person who gives lecturers, especially as an occupation at a university or college of higher education.




1.8. Chapterization

The research understudy shall encompass 5 chapters, which are as follows;

Chapter one shall comprise the introduction and body of the topic; Chapter two entails the literature review (concept of gender and academic performance, public and private universities, admission ratio, environmental factors and institutional effort towards academic performance) and theoretical framework; Chapter three consists of methodology and design, research instrument, sample and sampling size; Chapter four entails data presentation and analysis, while Chapter five shall be the concluding part, which includes the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendation.