Overcrowded universities fail to reduce student intake

An informal survey by University World News reveals that a 2017 directive from the National Universities Commission of Nigeria that mandated each university to admit a maximum of 50 students for each undergraduate course per year has long been abandoned.

After the 2017 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board examinations, the National Universities Commission (NUC) stated that due to limited slots for admission, Nigerian universities could only accommodate about 30% of the 1.7 million candidates who took the examination.

But federal and state-owned universities that draw their budgetary allocations from the government jettisoned the 50-student limit directive and have gone ahead and admitted a greater number.

At Benue State University, the state government asked the university management to improve on its internally generated revenue so it is currently admitting more students than it can handle and making it very difficult for students to learn.

“The school management has not only increased our fees but has also admitted so many students that we now stand in and around the lecture halls to receive lectures. There are about 500 students in my class and during most lectures you can barely hear what the lecturers are saying,” said Hembe Moses, a 200-level mass communication student.

According to Moses, whenever they have lectures with other departments you will find an average of 2,000 students crammed into a hall with a 500-student capacity.

At Nasarawa State University, the situation is no better. A glance at the number of 100-level students in different faculties shows that the faculty of education has over 3,000 students. Although students are shared across all six departments in the faculty, they are required to congregate in one place to take mandatory general classes.

In the faculty of social sciences, where there are 2,000 100-level students, the situation is similar, while the faculty of natural and applied sciences has 750 students.

At the University of Abuja, the department of agriculture has over 650 students at 200 level and the economics department has over 550 students at 400 level and 600 students at 100 level.

Victoria Onu, a student of economics who spoke to University World News, said that learning has become very difficult as students find it hard to concentrate due to the crowding. “It is very difficult to hear the lecturers if you can’t get a seat in front of the class during lectures and you can’t access the lecturers after class to seek clarification.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh, in a meeting with vice-chancellors of various universities of agriculture in Nigeria, recently urged the universities not to sacrifice quality education on the altar of revenue generation as admitting students beyond the institutions’ capacities will further aggravate the decline in quality of education in the country.

Dr Abdullahi Mohammed, of the department of education at the Federal University in Katsina State, has said that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) should be held responsible for admitting so many students. “JAMB conducts an intake for over a million applicants every year and the NUC is asking that only a quarter of that number be admitted … What happens to the rest?”