Concerns Arise Over Polytechnic Conversions to Universities in Nigeria


The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has voiced its apprehension regarding the future of technical education in Nigeria, given the increasing trend of polytechnics and colleges of education being converted into universities. To date, more than 20 polytechnics and colleges of education have undergone this transformation under the auspices of federal and state governments.

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Abubakar Rasheed, the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), had previously stated that the reason behind these upgrades was to enhance access to university education for Nigerian citizens. However, this explanation hasn’t been well-received by polytechnic lecturers. Anderson Ezeibe, the national president of ASUP, labeled this conversion as frivolous and a clear manifestation of inconsistency in the vision of public polytechnics’ proprietors.

Ezeibe emphasized that polytechnics were initially established to produce professionals in technical, technological, and vocational education, addressing the nation’s workforce needs. Polytechnic curricula place a strong emphasis on practical components to produce individuals with hands-on expertise, a distinction from universities.

He questioned the rationale behind these conversions, particularly by the Lagos State government, asking whether the demand for such technical manpower has been met. Ezeibe stressed that the declining enrollment in polytechnics is partly due to discrimination against them and their graduates, as well as outdated government policies on degree-awarding status.

Ezeibe reiterated the need for proper planning to ensure that the future of tertiary education in Nigeria is not jeopardized by these conversions. He proposed allowing polytechnics to grant degree-awarding status, which would address multiple issues, including the pursuit of degree-level certification, enhancing technical education through curricular improvements, retaining a qualified workforce, attracting funding, and eliminating the HND/degree divide.

He noted, “We are suggesting that polytechnics should retain the OND certification as middle-level manpower and use it as a foundation for a bachelor of technology certification to be awarded by polytechnics in their names if specific requirements are met.”

Several polytechnics and colleges of education, including Abia State Polytechnic, Abia State College of Education, Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, and Yaba College of Technology, have been affected by these conversions.

Various state governments, such as Kano, Oyo, Osun, and Lagos, have also embarked on similar transformations of colleges of education and polytechnics into universities or specialized institutions.

Experts argue that polytechnic education plays a pivotal role in a country’s economic development, offering technical and vocational training, technology transfer, and skills development to foster socio-economic progress. Colleges of education are essential for producing professionally-trained teachers for vocational and technical secondary schools, aligning with Nigeria’s technological advancement requirements.

President Bola Tinubu’s administration has also endorsed the conversion of two colleges of education, Adeyemi College of Education and Alvan Ikoku College of Education, into universities, further contributing to this educational transition in Nigeria.

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