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NUC issues licences to Edwin Clark, Hezekiah varsities


Chief Edwin ClarkFOLLOWING the recent approval of two new private universities by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the National Universities Commission (NUC) yesterday issued provisional licences of operation to the universities.

The universities were Edwin Clark University, Kiagbodo, Delta State and Hezekiah University, Umudi, Imo State. Chief Edwin Clark, one time federal commissioner of information and leader of the Ijaw nation who is the proprietor of one of the universities was however absent at the presentation of provisional licences to the institutions.

The two universities bring the total number of private universities in the country to 61. While both universities are targeting over 11,000 students by their 10th anniversary, they will take off with Faculty of Humanities, Social and Management Sciences and Faculty of Science.

Clark’s university has former Zenith Bank Managing Director, Jim Ovia as chairman, Board of Trustees, with Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Head of Service of the Federation, Oladapo Afolabi and Professor Anya O. Anya as members of the board.

While speaking earlier at the event, Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Julius Okojie, who hinged the creation of additional private universities on access and carrying capacity challenges for tertiary institutions in the country, criticized Nigerians who crave for foreign education at the expense of massive government investment in the sector.

He said Ghana and some other countries within the African continent, which have become destinations for Nigerian students cannot boast of better quality education, lamenting that they are only extorting Nigerians ignorantly.

In his address, Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, collaborated Okojie’s claim, arguing that prior to the approval of the two new institutions, Nigeria had 138 universities servicing a population of over 170 million people.

He cited Brazil and Mexico with 1,648 and 1,250 universities but servicing a population of 203 million and 120 million respectively. His words: “Government is aware that countries that are consistently well ranked in human development indices have, in recognition of the important role of universities in human capital development maintained a respectable number of universities relative to their populations.

“Private universities have contributed to the opening up of admission space for the swelling population of candidates seeking higher education, the growth of private universities in Nigeria has created an environment for healthy competition.”

While urging operators of the new universities to uphold high academic standard and quality, the minister warned that government would not hesitate to withdraw the licences if the conditions laid down are violated.

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