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By I. A. Ajayi and Ekundayo  Haastrup

Education is widely accepted as a major instrument for promoting socioeconomic, political and cultural development in Nigeria. Universities educate future leaders and develop the high-level technical capacities that underpin economic growth and development. The main purpose and relevance of university education in Nigeria is the provision of adequate manpower to accelerate the socio-economic development of the nation. Such specialized education at the higher level is an instrument of social change and economic development.

According to the National Policy on Education,the importance of higher education is to:

(a) Contribute to national development through high level manpower training.

(b) Develop and inculcate proper values for the survival of individuals and society;

(c) Develop the intellectual capability of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environment;

(d) Acquire both physical and intellectual skills which will enable individuals to be self-reliant and useful members of the society;

(e) Promote and encourage scholarship and community service;

(f) Inculcate national unity; and

(g) Promote national and international understanding and interactions.


The national policy on education specified how higher educational institutions in Nigeria should pursue these goals. Considering the importance of university education, funds allocated to higher education should not merely be considered as mere expenditure, but a long-term investment that is beneficial to the society in general. These benefits should be reflected on a societal level in terms of reducing unemployment rate, better health, lower social vices, involvement in societal activities, higher tax returns and other positive expectations.


Successful development entails more than investing in physical capital, or closing the gap in capital. It also entails acquiring and using knowledge as well as closing the gaps in knowledge. Thus to successfully confront the challenges of development, a developing country must undertake three major tasks:

(1) Acquire and adapt global knowledge and create knowledge locally;

(2) Invest in human capital to increase the ability to absorb and use knowledge; and

(3) Invest in technologies to facilitate both acquisition and the absorption of knowledge.

Despite the immense benefits of university education to nation building yet the potentials of higher education and indeed the university system in developing countries to fulfill these responsibility is frequently thwarted by long-standing problems bedeviling the system.

Higher education in Nigeria is in travail, the system is riddled with crises of various dimensions and magnitude. A number of multi-faceted problems have inhibited goal attainment and are raising questions, doubts and fears, all of which combine to suggest that the system is at a cross road.


Management of University Education in Nigeria

Management of university education can be looked at from two dimensions: the external and the internal levels. At the external level, this is the control by the federal government through the National Universities Commission (NUC), a body charged with the coordination of university management in the country. The main objective of the NUC is to ensure the orderly development of university education in Nigeria, to maintain its high standard and to ensure its adequate funding. The NUC activities in improving quality of university education in the country include:

  • Accreditation of courses
  • Approval of courses and programmes
  • Maintenance of minimum academic standards
  • Monitoring of universities
  • Giving guidelines for setting up of universities
  • Monitoring of private universities
  • Prevention of the establishment of illegal campus
  • Appropriate sanctions


On the other hand, the internal management at each university is represented by a simple organogram. The first is the Visitor who is usually the Head of State or the Head of Government that established it (The President in case of Federal universities, and the Governors in case of State universities). He usually comes to grace the convocation ceremonies where he uses the occasion to address the academic communities on matters of the moment.

The second is the Chancellor, who is the titular head of the university, who by law, in relation to the university, takes precedence before all other members of the university, and when he is present, presides at all meetings of the convocation held for conferring degrees.

Besides, at the apex of the management structure within each university is the Governing Council, headed by the Chairman (Pro- Chancellor) which is charged with the administrative functions in the areas of goal setting, policy formulation, staff development, general discipline, budget approval and liaison activities with the government. In the same vein, the main organ regulating the internal academic activities of the universities is the Senate, headed by the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar as the Secretary. The Senate regulates the academic activities of the university following the general guidelines provided by the NUC.


The universities in Nigeria are run through committee systems which are either responsible to the Council or the Senate, among these committees are:

  • Finance and General Purpose committee
  • Development committee
  • Appointments and Promotion committee
  • Admissions committee
  • Academic Planning committee
  • Committee of Deans
  • Research Grants committee
  • Ceremonies committee among others (Ibukun, 1997).


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Join us tomorrow as we will be discussing the part 2 of this topic which is Problems of University Management in Nigeria.


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