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A Study of the Impact of Massification on Nigerian Higher Education

A Study of the Impact of Massification on Nigerian Higher Education

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A Study of the Impact of Massification on Nigerian Higher Education




Tertiary education, as defined by the National Policy on Education, is education provided after secondary school in Nigerian universities, colleges of education, and polytechnics. These institutions are owned by the federal and state governments, corporations, or people.

Regardless of ownership, some Federal agencies have been appointed to approve, supervise, and accredit courses in these schools. The National Universities Commission (NUC) is in charge of universities, while the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) are in charge of polytechnics and colleges of education, respectively.

While the Yaba Higher College was Nigeria’s first tertiary institution, it opened in 1975, the University College of Ibadan debuted in 1948, and the first Advanced Teachers College began teacher training in 1962. So the youngest of the three major categories of tertiary education is 45 years old. Nigeria’s signing of world treaties on Education for All spawned the National Policy on Universal Basic Education.

With this, all school-age children are obliged to attend, and the progressive pupil population at both the primary and secondary levels has grown. According to Rui Yang (2002), Chinese higher education has grown quickly in the last decade, with gross enrolment rates rising from 3.4 percent in 1990 to 7.2 percent in 1995 and 11 percent in 2000. One of China’s provinces, Jiangsu, is projected to be among the first to begin the transition from elite to mass tertiary education.

Between 1975 and 2000, the number of adults with postsecondary education nearly doubled in OECD countries, from 22% to 41%. Ocho (2006) found that most universities and polytechnics, particularly those in the federal and state systems, enrol considerably more students than there are trained lecturers, classrooms, laboratories, desks, reading materials, and equipment.

Carrying capacity, defined as the greatest number of students that an institution can support for quality education based on existing human and material resources, has been exceeded multiple times. Obe (2007) reported that 13 of the 19 state universities over enrolled, but only one of the seven private colleges over enrolled among the 25 federally controlled universities.

It was also claimed that among the top ten overcrowded universities, 5 are federal and 5 are state. With particular reference to the University of Lagos, the student population has grown through time, as seen below:

1962-130, 1970-2528, 1980 12,365, 1980-12,365, 1990 12,647, 2000 37,683, 2006 37,840. A state-owned institution was discovered to have an excess of 24,628 students. The trend of massification is not different in polytechnics and educational institutes.


Significant increases in enrollment, according to UNESCO (1999), are a favourable sign of access democratisation. Access to higher education is not only available to those who fit the traditional definition of a student, i.e. a person aged 18-24 who entered higher education directly from secondary school or shortly thereafter, but also to older students who want to continue their education in this era of “lifelong learning.

” There are many more pupils of all ages, social classes, and academic standing. Massification is thus viewed positively because it demonstrates the democratisation of access and that it is no longer elitist. It also contributes to increased human capital formation, which provides countries with the professional people resources they require for development.

On a worldwide scale, massification appears to be vital in this information economy, where the two traditional pillars of a successful institution have been expanded to four and include not only outstanding teaching and research, but also the ability to innovate and share knowledge.

Because of the widespread availability and desire for higher education, creativity has become increasingly crucial. schools are getting more inventive and competitive in their efforts to recruit the brightest students, who often have a wide range of options for schools and curricula.

The increased enrollment in basic education as a result of the Education for All movement, as well as free and compulsory basic education provided by the majority of African states, has resulted in significant gains in both primary and secondary enrolment and completion rates.

Secondary enrollment, for example, surged by around 43% between 1999 and 2004, with approximately 31 million pupils enrolled across the African continent (UNESCO, 2007). These secondary school graduates then sought admission to postsecondary study.

However, the rise in demand exceeded the capacity of the institutions, and by the late 1980s, African higher education was considered to be in crisis (Ajayi et al, 2006). This is because, while the higher education sector was rapidly expanding and flourishing, most African countries were not stable enough to accommodate the significant growth in enrolment. “Studies have linked the crisis to the political and socioeconomic contortions that Africa has gone through in the last two decades,” writes Obanya (2004).

With military conflicts, civil wars, economic repressions, and bad administration (owing to either authoritarian or corrupt leadership), it was extremely difficult for the continent to find its footing in the rapidly developing sector of higher education.


Tertiary institutions in Nigeria are currently undergoing a hailstorm of fundamental changes, prompting some to say that the very concept of tertiary education is being challenged. Higher education in Nigeria is in crisis, characterised by a fall in teaching and research quality, deterioration in library and physical facilities, equipment in arts and science laboratories, and dissatisfied human resources. The most pressing issue is one of democratisation: the massification of higher education and the ever-increasing cost of education. The terms of the Universal Basic Education (Education for All) Act, which was implemented in September 1999, require all school-aged children in Nigeria to attend classes for a period of nine years. Unfortunately, there is not as much preparation and allocation of resources for the tertiary level as there is for the primary and secondary levels. The number of students in Nigeria’s higher education institutions is fast expanding, and the trend is currently approaching that of the mass education system elsewhere. Because of the enormous number of students, the space requirements for classrooms, lecture theatres, laboratories, and workshops are rarely met in more than 70% of tertiary institutions (Okebukola, 2000). Facilities are overstressed, creating a recipe for rapid disintegration in the face of limited maintenance expenditures. A preliminary report on the state of equipment in tertiary institutions’ workshops and labs records a terrible state of affairs in terms of number and functioning status. Worryingly, the way of providing courses and the assumptions underlying these procedures remained unchanged. Many people are concerned that an increase in student numbers without an increase in funding and physical facilities will result in a reduction in quality. Institutions of higher learning have found it more challenging to manage with huge classes while maintaining quality in these days of growing prices and large courses. The initial challenge is establishing a higher education system that balances the twin goals of excellence and broad access. As a result, there is a need for this research to look into massification and quality in Nigerian tertiary education.


The primary goal of this research is to determine the impact of massification on higher education institutions in Nigeria.

1. Determine whether class size is an indicator of tertiary education quality in Nigeria.

2. Determine whether the quality of teaching is affected by the sufficiency and quality of facilities and infrastructure.

3. Determine the lecturer-student ratio and how lecturers manage their workload.


To guide the investigation, the following research questions were developed:

1. What is the student-to-lecturer ratio at Nigerian tertiary institutions?

2. How do professors evaluate their workload?

3. Is there a link between the availability of facilities infrastructure and the quality of teaching at tertiary institutions?

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