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The National Universities Commission (NUC), has approved the upgrade of three institutions in Delta State to universities.
NUC Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, announced the approval when he hosted Delta Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday in Abuja.
NAN reports that Okowa led top state officials to present strategic documents of the new universities at the commission’s headquarters.
Last month, the House of Assembly passed the bill for the upgrade of the schools into law.
They are Delta State University, Agbor; Denis Osadebe University, Asaba and Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro.
Delta now owns four universities, making it the state with the highest number in Nigeria.
However, there are two federal universities – Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun.
Rasheed presented the letter of recognition to the governor and charged him to provide sustainable financial resources for the universities.
He said Delta State University, Agbor, is the 54th university in the country, while the Delta State University of Science and Technology is the 52nd university in the country.
The ES confirmed that the number of universities in Nigeria has risen to 197 universities; 98 are public universities and 99 private.
The official said there are 2.1 million students in Nigerian universities “and only five percent are accounted for in the 99 private universities.”
Rasheed assured that the commission would continue to work with the state to ensure the universities perform well.
In his remarks, Okowa explained that the sharp increase in demand for degree programmes necessitated the upgrade of the institutions.
The governor said the Delta State University, Abraka, had overstretched its capacity, noting that there was a need for the universities to broaden the knowledge of learners.
The sharp increase in the demand for degree programmes, he recalled, was first observed in 2007 at the College of Education, Agbor after the NUC formalised the approval of its affiliation to Delta State University.
Okowa said the College of Education has over 50 percent of the population enrolled in the degree programmes and used most of its resources to run degree programmes to the detriment of the National Certificate of Education.
He noted that in the Delta State Polytechnics, Ozoro, resources were being under-utilised hence the need for an upgrade.
“For the 2019/2020 academic session, 25,896 candidates choose the Delta State University, Abraka, and out of this number, 22,358 qualified but only 4,854 just about 20 per cent were admitted.”
Okowa regretted that those unable to secure admission due to limited spaces in existing institutions are forced to seek opportunities in various expensive, not accredited degree programmes