Much ado about private varsities’ First Class

Much ado about private varsities’ First Class

Recently, reactions trailed the number of first class graduates produced at the convocation ceremony of one of the prominent private universities in Nigeria. This is not the first time. A number of stakeholders who are not conversant with the workings of private universities have tagged the increasing number of first class recorded by private universities as “cheap grades”.

That position is borne of misunderstandings about private higher learning institutions.

Private universities are not cheap. They come with their price tags and value for what parents pay for. Parents and guardians pay for quality education in private universities which in fact is fading out in public universities as some of our reputable professors and other academics are in fact now enrolling their wards in private universities, having done their comparative analysis.

The lecturer-student ratio in most private universities is very low. Imagine a situation where a lecturer in public university has to contend with about 850 students or more compared to their contemporaries in a private university that lectures a class of 50 or lesser students. The latter will be more effective in teaching, mentoring, assessing, marking and grading.

In private universities, students have access to 24-hour internet services for their research, assignments and other academic activities. During Covid-19, private universities were online teaching their students because they had adequate facilities to take care of their students. Some of them also went further to conduct their matriculation and convocation ceremonies online as was the vogue internationally. Conversely, public universities were incapacitated and stagnant, giving their students excuses for lack of performance.

Private universities do not go on strike. Never! That is why their academic calendar is stable and uninterrupted. Hence, a dedicated student who applied for a five-year course would spend exactly five sessions and graduate in record time. This is not the case in our public universities where a student who enrolled for a four-year programme would end up spending seven to eight years due to protracted ASUU strikes. How do we expect first class performance in the situation where students’ educational psyche has been damaged by years of unresolved strikes?

Lecturers in private universities are encouraged to be cordial with their students. In private universities, students can submit their assignments to their lecturers via emails and other internet channels when the need arises. They can chat up their lecturers on their projects and take their corrections at agreed times – unlike what obtains in public universities.

Those who care to know may be surprised that most of the students in private universities are being trained with modern and current books/facilities in their e-library resources where various subscriptions for Proquest, LexisNexis, Law Pavilion, Research4Life which comprises Hinari, Agora, ARDI, OARE, Goalie and several others are made annually in millions of Naira unlike most public university lecturers relying on their old notes and textbooks. It has been confirmed that some professors in public universities use the same material to teach the same course for years.

In private universities, there is quality control. All lecturers are monitored by Academic Planning Department on the method, duration and quality of lectures. So, there is no room for absenteeism in class. Lecturers who skip their classes are sanctioned by the registry or the vice chancellor himself. In public universities, lecturers that skip classes are not sanctioned because some of the professors are “bigger” than the vice chancellors. Some will even go to classes a few times throughout the semester.

Several members of the National Universities Commission’s accreditation teams have confessed that facilities met on ground in some private universities are either not available in public universities or are moribund.

Indeed, the number of first class graduates in private universities is a product of huge investments, quality control and adequate supervision of human and material resources by managers of private universities..

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