The Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, has presented provisional licenses to the nine newly approved private universities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls the Federal Executive Council on Feb. 25, approved the establishment of nine new private universities, bringing their number to 59.
Shekarau said that the establishment of more private universities would go a long way to address the problem of access to university education in Nigeria.
''With the approval of nine new private universities, government hopes to address the issue of access to university education and enrolment of students in excess of the carrying capacity by existing universities.
''Private universities have contributed to the opening up of admission space for the swelling population of candidates seeking university education.
''The growth of private universities in Nigeria has created an environment for healthy competition that stimulates improvement in quality service delivery in the system.''
According to him, results of the highly competitive African Centres of Excellence Award conducted by the World Bank shows that 19 universities from West and Central Africa, including two from Nigeria, were successful.
Shekarau explained that the first and third ranked of the 19 universities were Nigerian private universities.
He commended the National Universities Commission (NUC) for its steadfastness in ensuring the maintenance and sustenance of quality in the system
The minister said that NUC's Standing Committee on Private Universities (SCOPU) and other arms of the commission would continue periodic verification visits to the universities.
``It is also imperative to emphasise that the provisional approval for these universities to operate is intended to create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth within the first five years of operation,'' he said.
In his remarks, Prof Julius Okojie, the NUC Executive Secretary, congratulated the operators of the new universities for meeting the commission's requirements.
Okojie said the approval was in tandem with the Federal Government's efforts at increasing access to education.
He cautioned the universities against rushing into admission of students as post-licence inspections would be carried out.
'' We will monitor you and your activities; do not admit students yet; there is what we call post-matriculation inspection before you admit students,'' he said.
Responding on behalf of the proprietors of the private universities, the Most Rev. Alfred Adewale-Martins, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, thanked the Federal Government and the NUC for granting them approvals.
According to him, private universities will contribute immensely in increasing access to education for the teeming youths, adding that new institutions have it as a task to mould patriotic citizens.
``We shall ensure that teaching and staff meet international best practice,'' he said.
The universities are Augustine University, Ilara, Lagos State; Chrisland University, Owode, Ogun State; Christopher University, Mowe, Ogun State, Hallmark University, Ijebu-Itele, Ogun State and Kings University, Ode-omu, Osun State.
Others are Michael and Cecilia Ibru University, Orode, Delta State, Mountain Top University, Makogi Oba, Ogun State; Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, and Summit University Offa, Kwara State.