Improving the Profile, Recognition, Enrolment, and Credibility at Nigerian Private Universities

The Nigerian Education Market Report addresses the following:

  1. Nigeria Higher Education  Market
  2. Opportunities for engagement with Nigeria
  3. Target Group
  4. Approach
  5. Partnerships
  6. Challenges
  7. Key Issues
  8. Online Education, e-Learning and Vocational (Virtual) Training Opportunities
  9. Private Equity and Venture Capital Interest in the Nigerian Educational Sector
  10. UK Government Education Initiatives for Nigeria

Executive Summary

  • —Globally recognized universities are seeking to increase enrolment through various modes around the world today.
  • —It is now estimated that a total of N246 Billion or $1.54 Billion was spent by Nigerians in the United Kingdom and the United States  in 2010 alone.
  • —Government allocation on Education in 2012 was N400.15 Billion (or $1.6 Billion) and is forecast to increase to N426.5 Billion or 9.1% in 2013.
  • This funding is primarily allocated to the “Unity” (Federal) institutions.
  • Private institutions do not get funding from the government.
  • —Core areas of interest in Nigeria includes Information Technology (IT) and the requisite certifications, Banking, Finance and Accounting, Law, Engineering and Computer Science.
  • —The Central Bank Governor reported in Month 2012 that an estimated $1 Billion was spent in foreign educational institutions.
  • —Nigerians paid  N160 Billion on tuition on 71,000 children in Ghana (about N2.3 Million or about $15,000 per student).  This is because Ghana has a more updated curriculum.
  • —E-Learning is becoming a big play in Nigeria and Online education and e-Learning is becoming a large part of how students in Nigeria get educated.

The Education Landscape in Nigeria
Overview of the Education System in Nigeria

  • —The Nigerian Education Sector is dominated by public universities which are owned and controlled by the government. However, in the last 6 – 8 years, private universities have started to emerge with a  focus on harnessing some of the lost revenue from education lost to the UK, US, Europe, Ghana and South Africa.
  • —Government allocation on Education in 2012 was N400.15 Billion (or $1.6 Billion) and is forecast to increase to N426.5 Billion or 9.1% in 2013.
  • —In the latest GCSE / WASSCE exam results, only 38.81% of students passed with Mathematics, English and three other subjects (5 credits including Math and English are needed for admission to Universities and Polytechnics; over 1 Million students failed to achieve this.
  • —Private university tuition ranges from a low of N160,000 (or $1,000) per session to a high of N1.4 Million (or $8,750) per session. A session is a full year.
  • —There are approximately 50 private universities approved by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC).  There are also several vocational and e-Learning institutions although most of them are unregulated and unlicensed.
  • —Nigerian graduates are sometimes still found lacking in the workplace as they are not exposed to fresh and current curriculum
  • —Over time, however, due to the inattention that the sector received during the turbulent military dictatorship years, Nigerian schools began to lose their allure and the resources were plowed into educational institutions overseas.
  • —It is now estimated that a total of N246 Billion or $1.54 Billion was spent in the United Kingdom and the United States  in 2010 alone.
  • The Central Bank Governor reported in Month 2012 that an estimated $1 Billion was lost to foreign educational institutions due to the low standards of our current universities.
  • Nigerians paid  N160billion on tuition on 71,000 children in Ghana (about N2.3 Million per child).

Higher Education in Nigeria

  • —There are 36 federal universities, 37 state universities and 45 private universities accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Nigeria
  • —Polytechnic colleges were established to train technical, mid level manpower (US State Government Research)
  • —Average enrolment is 37.6% for women and 62.4% for men
Factors Influencing Primary School Drop Out
  • —Less than 1/3 of basic school children proceed to senior secondary school
  • —Nigeria lags behind in meeting universal basic education, a Millennium Development Goal slated for 2015
  • —Non school attendance is highest among states in the Northeast and Northwest zones.
  • —72% of children never attended school in Borno State; this compares with less than 3% in most southern zones.


Increasing Enrolment in Nigerian Private Universities
Private Sector

  • —Nigerian Private Universities are able to improve their credibility and recognition globally by partnering with UK universities to ensure a more robust and comprehensive curriculum and course work schedule.
  • —These partnerships enable parents to recognise the value of the private university, which improves the chances for their children to be enrolled at these local schools.

This scenario would also apply to parents who desire to send their children overseas but due to visa or funding restrictions seek local options for the education of their children.

  • A partnership between a local university and its UK partner provides a level of comfort in the quality of the education received.
  • —Nigerian students are extremely coveted by the English educational system because they not only bring in billions, but the students apparently do very well, meaning very good business for the U.K. which sells its educational system not just in Nigeria, but across the world. Companies like Global Education Study Centers, for example, make a considerable profit packaging and selling education in the U.K. to weary Nigerians simply seeking to educate their children in a reliable system.

—Key Statistics

  • Number of Nigerians being educated in the UK has increased by over 75% since 2002 (British Council, 2006)
  • Nigeria ranked 8thin a 2007 – 2008 list ranking countries that send students to the UK for education
  • Estimated 23 million youth are unemployable inadequacy of the university education that they receive
  • —Local private universities are able to capture some of the market share lost to UK universities by fast tracking partnerships and offering the course work at their campus.

Opportunities from engaging with the emerging markets

Opportunities for Nigerian Private Universities that Engage with Global Institutions of Higher Education:

  • —Nigerian private universities who market their affiliation with globally recognized universities tend to increase enrolment in their programmes, which also increases revenue for the university
  • Global Affiliation Increased Enrolment Increased Revenue Better Job Placements of Graduates
  • —Increased enrolment by Nigerians means that this starts to stem the outflow of educational funds by families to neighbouring Ghana, South Africa, UK and the US
  • —The quality of education is drastically improved with access to updated and current case studies, research and curriculum.
  • —Through a long term partnership, the locally based private universities could identify new sources of funding for research projects, secure job placements for internships and improve the ranking and profile of the university at home and abroad.
  • —Nigerian institutes are looking for innovative ways to improve the research culture and incorporate the basic employable skills in the curriculum of the higher education system.
  • —Development and delivery of special training programmes for teachers training, employability, and skills development which integrate the practical application of theoretical knowledge.
Engaging with Nigerian Higher Education Sector

Method of Engagement

  • —The preferred method of engagement with Nigeria is through collaboration with private education institutions where professional courses are offered in partnership with existing service providers who have widespread local presences.
  • —Partnering with a globally recognized university in the UK will place the Nigerian private university on the map and greatly improve its recognition on the global stage, which results in increased enrolments.
  • —A mode of engagement is proposed below:


Higher Education Primary Customers
Potential Student Group

  • —Primary customers for full time courses are likely to be low middle class to urban middle-class youth whose families may not necessarily be able to afford the complete expenses needed to pursue a degree abroad.
  • —Visa entry may also limit capable families seeking to send their children overseas for a degree. A recent report showed that the British Embassy processes 36,000 visa applications annually.
  • —Customers will want to receive an appropriate qualification that preferably offers an up to date curriculum, international exposure and better employment opportunities compared to a local college.
  • —The other customer  is the middle class young working professionals who have completed a graduate degree or diploma, have work experience and seek one or more additional qualifications that are career relevant.
  • —Foreign universities can leverage the opportunity of offering contextualised courses that fit into the Nigerian landscape with access to recent case studies and curriculum.
  • —Parents are the primary funders of private education; education is the top priority among families, with over 50% wanting their children to get a master’s degree.
  • —It is also worth remembering that middle-class parents are more likely to encourage students to study locally in order to keep the younger ones at home longer; there is an underlying stigma with children who go overseas for their education but do not return to Nigeria after they are done.
  • —Exchange or partner programmes offered at local universities result in eventual local placements or employment in Nigeria.


  • —Partnerships will be long term and sustainable with a wide range of education institutions to position Nigerian universities and their partners as the university of choice.
  • —Development of joint programmes and dual degree provisions where part of the programme can be undertaken in both countries. Nigeria is supportive of exchange programmes which are cost effective.
  • —Joint research collaborations where faculty members from overseas institutions are able to work together with local faculty to develop courses and projects. For Nigeria, research collaborations and other forms of academic exchange through innovative partnerships is an effective way of developing the right mix of skills essential for developing a knowledge based economy.
  • —Localizing foreign programmes to meet the needs of the Nigerian market through courses and which are offered locally in Nigeria  is also a good way to explore relationships with the new education academies.

Nigerian Students in the US

  • —Nigeria ranks 17th largest source of international undergraduates in the US, 19th for international graduate students in the 2009/2010 school year
  • —Nigeria is the host of American University of Nigeria in Yola, which has a direct partnership with the American University in Washington, DC
  • —Nigeria is the largest source of students from sub-saharan Africa to the US
  • —There are 6,568 Nigerian students studying in over 733 regionally accredited US colleges and universities in all 50 states including the District of Columbia.
  • —Texas is the most popular state for Nigerian students followed by New York
  • —Major source of funding is personal and family funds.
  • —There was a 6% increase in the number of Nigerian students studying at US institutions in 2010.
  • —The most popular majors are Engineering, Business, Physical Sciences and Public Health.

Overview of Online / E-Learning Landscape

  • —E-Learning is becoming a big play in Nigeria and Online education and e-Learning is becoming a large part of how students in Nigeria get educated.
  • —Most graduates save up funds to take courses that lead to certificates being awarded from the University of Phoenix, Liverpool University, Boston University (Project Management), and the George Washington University Project Management Program, to name a few.
  • —This is happening with somewhat improved Broadband Internet access in the country delivered by high capacity fiber optic cables from the likes of Main One Cable, Glo1 and WACS.
  • In July 2010, Main One Cable launched the first undersea fiber optic cable in the country that is now delivering fast broadband services in Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of West Africa.
  • Three more cables have landed in the country including Glo1, the West African Cable System (WACS), a consortium of telecommunication providers that includes Vodacom, MTN, Orange and other global operators and WIOCC, another consortium seeking to deliver high speed Internet services in the region.
  • —This availability means that Internet access is more accessible and available and the costs, while not at the levels of the developed world, are dropping drastically; costs are now 1/7th the prices they were 18 months ago and it is expected that they will become even lower.
  • —The challenge though is that last mile and backhaul infrastructure to deliver fast broadband services to the homes. Backhaul fiber is still very expensive even though the Federal Government and the regulators are partnering with the private sector to alleviate this bottleneck.
  • —Broadband access for a 10 Mbps dedicated line can cost $6,000 per month, not including the cost of dedicated fiber to the premises.
  • —Offering certificate courses, which either provide new skills or augment existing skills, would be a good starting point.

Private Equity and Venture Capital Investment interest in the Nigerian Education Sector

Potential Private Equity and Venture Capital Investments:

  • —There are limited (local) private equity and venture capital firms looking at the education sector in Nigeria today.
  • —Social Enterprise Investment funds are also interested in education ventures.

Why Education makes a compelling case for investments:

  • —High rates of return: 15% -to over 40%. ROI can exceed 30%.
  • —Favourable pricing: Driven by supply and demand imbalance
  • —Scalability: Insufficient supply and overwhelming demand offer opportunities for operational scale growth and top line growth
  • —Revenue predictability: Private education sector, multiyear enrolment and knowledge of attrition rates allows firms to better predict their revenue streams
  • —Negative working capital: Student fees are collected annually or semi annually while costs are incurred over a period of time.
  • —Counter Recession: increase enrolment as economy worsens and increase in employment.


  • —Seek foreign partnerships to improve the value of the degree and to ensure marketability of the graduate for job employers
  • —Collaborate with the NUC, the Nigerian Corporate entitities, the education and training academies, Nigerian Institutes of Technology, State Governments and the emerging cities.  This alignment could help to unlock new sources of funding for research, student exchange, and programme development.
  • —Develop a pilot with two key private universities in Nigeria and leverage marketing to attract students looking for the best university to enrolling.
  • —Develop an evidence based approach to its international activities which is informed by an analysis of the Nigerian Education market, challenges to entry and the opportunities for strategic and sustainable partnerships.
  • —Develop a more robust marketing and communications strategy for promoting the international brand in Nigeria through leveraging the alumni networks, academic relationships, bespoke events, seminars and conferences in Nigeria and UK.
  • —Improve its internal and external communications; enable sharing of information and good practice across the departments and between academic staff and senior management on international strategy.
  • —Explore partnerships with private equity education focussed funds such as Kaizen and Elephant Capital and gauge their interest in investing in the Nigerian Education sector.

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