The approval was given by the Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, when the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, led top state government officials to present strategic documents of the universities at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Friday.
The approved universities are the Delta State University, Agbor; Dennis Osadebe University, Asaba and the Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro.
The development has made Delta a state with the highest number of universities in the country. The state, with the three approved universities in addition to the one already in existence, now has four universities. It also has two federal universities, namely; Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun, making the total number of universities in the state six.
Rasheed, at the presentation of letter of recognition, charged the governor to provide sustainable financial resources for the survival of the universities.
“Today, Delta State with this three will have four state universities and making it the state with the largest number of public universities in the country.
“It is something worth celebrating, we advice the governor to kindly make the universities to serve the purpose they are created for by providing sustainable funding.
“The 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.
“With this, we now have 197 universities in the country, 98 of them are public universities, and 99 of them are private.
“The total enrolment in the 99 private universities is slightly over five per cent of the total enrolment in the university system.
“We have only 2.1 million university students and only five per cent are accounted for in the 99 private universities.
“So we need governors who are education friendly to come up with this initiatives and to follow it up with concrete plans and arrangements for the success of the universities so established.
“No doubt you will do something to ensure the universities do not become beggars,” he said.
Rasheed, however, said that the commission would continue to work with the state to ensure the universities take their place among other universities.
Responding, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, said the sharp increase in demand for degree programmes necessitated the upgrade of the institutions.
He said that the Delta State University, Abraka, had over stretched its capacity, noting that there was need for the universities to broaden the knowledge of learners.
“Feb 22, 2021, a new and historic chapter was opened for tertiary education in Delta State. On that day the state house of assembly passed an executive bill for the upgrade of the three existing institutions to universities.
“There are several reasons for this; first, in the last decade or so we have witnessed a drastic drop in the demand for programmes offered by these higher institutions.
“The sharp increase for the demand of degree programmes was observed in 2007 at the College of Education, Agbor.
“This is after the NUC formalised the approval of its affiliation to Delta State University, to offer some degree programmes, thus the continuous increase in the demand of degree programmes.
“The College of Education has over 50 per cent of the population enrolled in the degree programmes hence utilising most of its resources to run degree programmes to the detriment of the National Certificate of Education.
Okowa added that the low student subscription was also one of the reasons for the upgrade. He noted that in the Delta State Polytechnics, Ozoro, resources were being under-utilised hence need for 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.
“Regrettably, those who are unable to secure admission due to limited spaces in existing institutions are forced to seek opportunities in various expensive, not accredited degree programmes, ‘’ he said.