Despite Being Exposed, Illegal Varsities Still Thrive

In spite of efforts at ensuring unfettered access to university education in Nigeria, the challenges posed by illegal universities, also known as “Degree Mills” still persist in the country.

Though the operation of illegal universities has been prohibited in Nigeria, fake universities still operate in the country.

A recent report by the National Universities Commission (NUC) published in its bulletin dated  December 19, 2022, showed that many satellite campuses and study centres are still operating illegally in the country.

LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that there are over 58 universities operating illegally in the country. These institutions were announced to have been closed by the NUC while nine-degree mills are currently undergoing further investigation and/or court actions.

The institutions currently undergoing investigation are; the National University of Nigeria, Keffi, Nasarawa State; North Central University, Otukpo, Benue State; Christ Alive Christian Seminary and University, Enugu; Richmond Open University, Arochukwu, Abia State; West Coast University, Umuahia; Saint Clements University;  Volta University College, Aba, Abia State; Satellite Campuses of Ambrose Alli University; LIFE Leadership University, Benin City, Edo State.

The purpose, according to the commission, is to prosecute the proprietors and recover illegal fees and charges to subscribers.

Some other illegal institutions according to the NUC are; Saint Augustine’s University of Technology, Jos, Plateau State or any of its other campuses; International University, Missouri, USA Kano and Lagos Study Centres or any of its campuses in Nigeria; Columbus University, UK operating anywhere in Nigeria; Tiu International University, UK operating anywhere in Nigeria; Pebbles University, UK operating anywhere in Nigeria; London External Studies UK operating anywhere in Nigeria.

Others are; Pilgrims University operating anywhere in Nigeria; Lobi Business School, Makurdi, Benue State or any of its campuses in Nigeria; West African Christian University operating anywhere in Nigeria; Bolta University College Aba is located in Nigeria; JBC Seminary Inc. (Wukari Jubilee University) Kaduna Illegal Campus; Western University, Esie, Kwara State or any of its campuses in Nigeria; St. Andrews University College, Abuja or any of its campuses in Nigeria; EC-Council University, USA, Ikeja Lagos Study Centre; Atlas University, Ikot Udoso Uko, Uyo Akwa Ibom State or any other of its campuses in Nigeria; Concept College/Universities (London) Ilorin or any of its campuses in Nigeria; Halifax Gateway University, Ikeja or any of its campuses in Nigeria; Kingdom of Christ University, Abuja or any of its campuses in Nigeria.

The list includes Metro University, Dutse/Bwari, Abuja; Southend University, Ngwuro Egeru (Afam) Ndoki, Rivers State; Olympic University, Nsukka, Enugu State; Federal College of Complementary, Abuja; Temple University, Abuja; Irish University Business School London operating anywhere in Nigeria; National University of Technology, Lafia, Nasarawa State; University of Accountancy and Management Studies, Mowe, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and its Annex at 41, Ikorodu Road, Lagos; University of Education, Winneba Ghana, operating anywhere in Nigeria; Cape Coast University, Ghana operating anywhere in Nigeria; African University Cooperative Development (AUCD), Cotonou, Benin Republic operating anywhere in Nigeria; Pacific Western University, Denver, Colorado Owerri Study Centre; Evangel University of America and Chudick Management Academic, among others.

Unfortunately, many of the names published as far back as 2012 are still being repeated in 2022, with other names now added to this list of illegality.

Nigeria currently has 210 universities, 50 are owned by the federal government, 111 are private and 59 are owned by state universities but a large number of public and private universities in Nigeria has not enabled easy access to tertiary education due to the low carrying capacity of the institutions, while fake institutions continue to grow across different parts of the country, hence the emergence of these fake institutions.

Most of them claim affiliation to established universities from some African countries and other parts of the world.

Reacting on the issue, the executive secretary of the NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, warned that anybody who patronises or obtains any certificate from any of the illegal institutions does so at his or her own risk.

He said certificates obtained from such universities would not be recognised for the purposes of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), employment and further studies, while adding that the commission was working with relevant law enforcement agencies for necessary action since it does not have the power to prosecute the offenders by itself.

Rasheed said the NUC was working with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to weed out illegal universities operating in Nigeria.

He urged members of the public to assist in reporting such illegal institutions of learning wherever they find them operating.

He said the task of safeguarding the quality of the university system was not only that of the NUC, noting that it would continue to publish names of approved universities on its website.

“We have set up a committee to look into that and I can tell you that we are doing a lot to end the ugly trend of the illegal mills,” he said.

Rasheed also lamented that the commission is facing serious challenges from the universities, and called for concerted efforts to ensure that the system continues to thrive.

“Every publication we do, we make a list of the approved universities and illegal ones. We have many of them, unfortunately, as we try, those who are also benefiting from illegal institutions are devising ways of carrying out the act but we are doing our best and we believe it is only between the parents and students because our experience and investigation showed that it is the active collaboration sometimes between the parents and the students because parents are aware that these universities are illegal so they just come and tell them to pay money, in one year they earn a degree and they may end up working in big places.

“Some of them come with certificates and said they went to Benin Republic to study. The former director general of the NYSC used to come here and we agreed that anytime they claim they  studied in Benin Republic or Ghana, we just want to see the stamp of your passport and many of the students confessed they never had a passport and they had certificates for the universities.

“Unfortunately, the NUC can only regulate universities in Nigeria, it does not have powers outside of here so for us we are not aware of any university where you can earn a degree in six months so if any employer wants to recognise such a degree, you are on your own but we in the commission cannot come and tell you this is illegal or legal if it is obtained in the country.

“People go to Niger Republic to take a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, part-time in 18 months and agencies write to us asking whether it is true and we tell them in Nigeria, part-time Nursing programme is over six years.

“So we have a challenge and we will continue to do our best. We will continue to publish the list of approved universities because we don’t even know how many they are, it is by accident that sometimes people ask us is this university approved? We just checked, we say oh, it is not and once we have evidence we put it to an illegal degree and forward it to the ICPC for interrogation and further prosecution.

“The NUC will continue to appeal to the public to assist us in safeguarding the integrity of university education in Nigeria,” he added.

The minister of education, Adamu Adamu, recently said the existence of illegal universities continued to pose a challenge to the attainment of quality education in Nigeria, adding that the government would not rest on its oars in cracking down on illegal universities in the country.

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