Recently, the National Universities Commission (NUC) uncovered sixty seven (67) illegal universities, satellite campuses and study centres found to be operating out of sight of authorities in Nigeria.
The unregulated schools were uncovered after a series of investigations carried out by the commission and uploaded on its website.
The issue of illegal universities is not new in Nigeria, hence the need for parents and guardians to examine properly before allowing their ward to fall victim to these emerging trends.
There is no doubt that children who attend these schools are at a potential risk because there is no formal external oversight of safeguarding the quality of education they provide.
Sadly, the issue of illegal institutions has been happening into the system for a long time. In 2016 for instance, NUC discovered 37 universities running illegal or unaccredited courses with publicly owned universities among the culprits.
Similarly, in 2015 the commission shut down 57 of such fake higher institutions operating without accreditation but after thousands of Nigerian youths and their parents/guardians desperate for university education had been scammed.
In its weekly news bulletin of December 2018, NUC announced that 58 institutions operating illegally as degree awarding institutions have been shut down because they were not licensed by the federal government and were closed down for violating the Education (National Minimum Standards, etc) Act CAP E3 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
It is not surprising then when the National Universities Commission (NUC) recently released the list of 58 illegal universities in Nigeria. The commission accused the institutions of operating without being licensed and therefore shut them down for violating the national minimum standard for education, according to a bulletin from the office of the NUC dated May 14.
Speaking recently at the 11th convocation of Al-Hikmah University held in Ilorin, the executive secretary of the Commission, Abubakar Rasheed, expressed concern that all the alleged illegal institutions award certificates.
He, however, said that the NUC is tackling the situation headlong to discourage the illegality and ensure that the reputation of tertiary education in the country is not harmed beyond remedy.
“The commission is taking concrete steps through inter-agencies collaboration to tackle the untoward development headlong, especially by mass sensitisation of unsuspecting patrons through periodic publication lists of such ‘Degree Mills’,” he stated.
According to him, “Their activities violate the Education National Minimum standards and establishment of Institutions Act cap E3 2004, an Act which similarly mandates NUC to close down all unapproved degree-awarding institutions.
“Consequently, the purported proprietors and promoters of these illegal mills are by this notice directed to close their illegal activities within 30 days,” it added.
However, analysts are not convinced with the level of response taken by the commission to deal with the situation, tasking NUC to find a way of prosecuting operators of these institutions so as to scare others who might have intention of involving in such acts.
According to an education sector analyst, Kelvin Agbor, given that NUC has a list of legally recognised universities in the country they should close down any institution that is purported not to be on their list and prosecute its proprietors.
“That is the easiest way to put an end to this scam. In this regard, NUC will need the support of the government and its relevant agencies to prosecute the proprietors of these illegal university operators,” he said.
NUC, has severally released the names of illegal tertiary institutions in Nigeria however, with no action by the government putting a finality to this embarrassing issue is raising so many questions.
Many of the names published as far back as 2016 are still being repeated in the recent publications, with other names now added to the list of illegality.