The Problems Facing Universities in Nigeria

There are root causes to why the problems facing universities in Nigeria are growing strong every day. These causes are obvious pointers to the question of whether there are ready solutions to the problems.

Across the 36 states, Nigerian higher education, especially in the public sector, is plagued with many nationally systemic challenges. Many of these problems are highlighted as inadequate funding, corruption, inadequate infrastructural facilities, shortage of academic staff, strike actions, brain drain, poor research, weak administrators, insecurity, and so on and so forth.

Even then several attempts and efforts to resolve the problems facing higher education in Nigeria have been duly recommended. Many of the suggested solutions are identified as adequate funding of higher education, employment of more academic staff, provision of adequate infrastructural facilities, motivation of academic staff, appointment of qualified administrators, fights against all forms of corruption in higher institutions, provision of adequate security in all higher institutions and implementation all agreement with union groups.

But those remedies have not all been worked on, due to political negligence and the carelessness of the various strata of the government. Hence, the country witnesses the increasing power its own challenges or problems and they seem unending and scary.

Challenges Facing Universities in Nigeria

As remedies are not readily handy to the federal government of Nigeria, there is a compulsion to identify the problems and explain their roots. We feel by doing this, we can come to a final understanding of what the solutions could and should be.

Here are the few problems currently facing universities in Nigeria:

Lack of Financial Support for Research

Research conducted in higher education institutions helps people develop and instill the right values that are necessary for both individual and societal survival. These days, this job is burdened by governments’ dismal attitudes toward research and their underfunding of research initiatives. In actuality, there’s no reason to believe that same issue won’t arise again. Universities are expected to conduct research in order to further knowledge as well as to provide solutions to societal issues.

Numerous issues plague the management of research programs in Nigerian public universities, including insufficient money for research, an unpredictable academic schedule due to strikes, inadequate facilities, brain drain, insecurity, corruption, and inadequate technological advancement/ICT literacy. Other issues facing the administration of research programs include the private sector’s low involvement in research creation and the absence of a favorable working (research) environment.


One of the most serious problems threatening the survival of the educational systems is that of dwindling level of public funding in the face of rising demands and hence rising cost of higher education. This shortage of funds affects job performance and the growth of the institution.

Higher educational institutions cannot perform optimally without funding. This situation calls for increased fund initiative from both the government and educational stakeholders so as to sustain the tempo and growth of education industry. The inability of the Nigerian government to objectively accept and implement the 26% funding formula for education recommended by the UNESCO impact negatively on the performance and sustainability of higher education.

Thus, it has become obvious that Nigeria’s neglect of the funding formula is detrimental to higher educational institution performance and development aspiration as quality performance is the veritable instrument for sustenance of education system. This neglect has further precipitated crises in the entire higher educational systems as effective teaching, research and service are no longer taking place seriously.

Inadequate Number of Staff

Another major challenge facing the administrators of higher institutions in Nigeria is the problem of shortage of academic and non-academic staff which revealed wide disparities between Nigerian universities and their counterparts in other parts of the world. inadequate lecturers is a serious problem facing all the higher institutions in Nigeria.

Many higher institutions do not have adequate lecturers to deploy for teaching in the various institutions. The shortage of lecturer is responsible for the poor quality of teaching and learning in most Nigerian higher institutions. The problem of inadequate manpower in the higher institutions in Nigeria is caused by poor manpower planning, inadequate funding, corruption and inadequate teachers’ institutions.

Mismanagement and Stealing

Effective university administration has been hampered by the high level of corruption at Nigeria’s public universities. The current state of many public universities is a result of systemic corruption. The money allocated for program development, staff hiring, infrastructure provision, and program implementation was either pilfered or transferred into individual accounts.

In 2018, the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project claimed that there were allegations of corruption in several federal universities relating to the unfair allocation of grades; contract inflation; truncation of staff’s salary on the payroll; employment of unqualified staff; certificate scandal; examination malpractice; sexual harassment; and issuance of results for expelled students to graduate.

Industrial Action

It has become a known fact that students across various universities in Nigeria are constantly faced with industrial actions embarked upon by the Academic and Non-Academic Staff Unions of various institutions. The disagreement or lack of understanding between government and unions arising from non-implementation of agreement reached, often results in deadlock that usually disrupts academic calendar.

As academic activities are suspended for a long period, the students reading abilities fell. Even the previous knowledge acquired is even forgotten by some students.

This mostly turns some students into certificates seekers than knowledge seekers. Poor implementation of agreement, inadequate funding, poor and negotiating skills are factors responsible for various strike action in the higher institutions in Nigeria. More so, students riot and other issues contribute to strike action or temporary shut-down of universities which threaten the stability of institutions as well as affect the overall performance of students and the staff in general.

Solutions To These Problems

Having lined up the problems facing universities of Nigeria, it becomes pertinent that the solutions be mentioned and efficiently detailed for what is considered the way forward. Below is the list of ideas which are thought sufficient:

Budgetary Allocation and Lecturer’s Welfare

The wellbeing of Nigerian academics must be taken more seriously by Nigerian political leaders, and it cannot be overstated. Teaching is a great job. However, it appears that this is not the case in Nigeria. This is because the country does not value our lecturers. They are not treated with the respect we would expect. Many Nigerian academics perform admirably, and the country should recognize and thank them for their efforts.

If Nigeria fails to fairly compensate its academics, morale will suffer, and the country would not benefit from the best of those who choose to stay in the industry. This will be detrimental to both pupils and Nigeria as a whole. If the government intends to keep these schools open, it must greatly raise its budgetary contribution for education and fairly compensate professors.

Improve Staff Development

A lot of people blame the Government, specifically, the Federal Government. Some say why not blame the Lecturers too. Of course, there is enough blame to go around. But ultimately, it is the role of the State or Federal Government who own and run these Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education to ensure staff development.

A mediocre lecturer cannot impact maximum knowledge because you cannot give what you don’t have. Having said that, the lecturers themselves need to recognize the role of personal and professional development. A lecturer cannot teach with notebooks from 1990 and textbooks from 2000 and blame that on the Federal Government.

Employability and Skills Development

Many Nigerian graduates are unemployable. Improving graduate employability should be a top focus for the Minister of Education. The federal government must take aggressive actions to resolve this complicated situation. Tertiary education should not be about memorizing, copying, and pasting from textbooks. Nigerian universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education should aid their students in developing essential abilities that would be effective in handling complicated challenges in the workplace.

Employers are interested in knowing if recent graduates are qualified for the position and will work well with their team. Being a good student or having a first-class degree is not always a prerequisite for having the aptitude and ability to do a job. The necessary employment abilities are often lacking in first-class graduates. It is a positive development that attention is being paid to enhancing the employability of young Nigerians by applying international standards.

Graduates with skill sets will go on to support economic growth. Therefore, increasing the employability and skills of our graduates is crucial to building a more successful country, and the Federal Government must give employability and entrepreneurship skills development top priority.

Technology-enabled Teaching and Administration

The world is changing. Nigeria should be ahead of the curve, or at least not allow the education sector to fall so far behind. When the Covid-19 epidemic struck in the first quarter of 2020, all British universities were able to transition to an online style of delivery for all classes. This shift was done in about a week or two. The country has to make significant investments in technology-enabled teaching and administration. Nigeria has the capacity to deliver on this. The Ministry of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy can collaborate with the Ministry of Education to develop a technologically sophisticated educational delivery system.

Curriculum and Research Development

A lot of the curriculum used across our Federal and State Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education are dated. There was a review of the minimum academic standards by the National Universities Commission (NUC) a few years ago. What Nigerians didn’t see much of was the involvement of professional bodies and employers in this process. That is why Nigerians need to refresh the entire higher education curriculum and embrace the current realities of an evolving global village. Teaching should be research informed.

Academics must engage in continuous research and professional development. The government should invest more towards research grants and attendance of international conferences by Nigerian academics. They should also reduce the bureaucracy associated with assessing such grants and opportunities. Our students and graduates will be better off for this.

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