By Mariam Sanni Abuja
Professor Toyin Falola of University of Texas, Austin, Texas,USA, has said failure of public universities contributed to the growth of private universities.
According to him, most countries of the world are debating the virtues of public versus private schooling, comparing and contrasting the cost-benefits in their financing.
Falola who delivered the Caleb University, Imota, Lagos, 8th convocation lecture titled Private universities and the public good said private universities are now part of a global network that exchanges students and ideas, adding “they’re agencies of globalization.”
Falola said despite efforts to improve higher education, Sub Sahara African states faced budgetary limitations in the 80s due to global recession, oil crisis and movement of industrial production to Asia.
The resulting dependence on structural adjustment programmes, he noted, weakened sub Sahara African economics and also hindered their ability to fund higher education.
He pointed out that advisor from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund pressured debtor states to allocate more funding to primary and secondary education at the expense of tertiary education.
Consequently, he added, demand for higher education increased and many African governments ordered their flagship universities to accept more students than their resources could support.
Falola added that “International involvement and local demand for tertiary education spurred the development of private universities in Africa. The number of public universities in Africa increased from about 100 to 500 between 1990 and 2014, but the number of private universities increased from 30 to more than 1000 in the same period. These were possible because of the public sector’s failure to satiate the growing demand for tertiary education and diminishing government subsidies for public universities.”
According to him, private university education curricular were designed to meet labour market requirements, encouraged by the belief that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector and the need for economic policies that favour market forces over state intervention.
The university don posited that private universities can hold not-for-profit status often meeting religious needs or for profit status and usually as business endeavors.
He explained, often laid emphasis on morality and integrity based on the job market. These programmes, he added, suggest that private universities are satiating different types of education needs.
“The advent of private Christian universities in Africa can be explained by a rise in demand for tertiary education, the liberalization of government chartering and widespread adoption of Christianity.