The Development of Private Higher Education in Nigeria: A Comparative Analysis between Northern and Southern Region

Muhammad Muftahu


Private higher education is experiencing a rapid considerable growth for decades globally, particularly in Africa. In Nigeria, the history and the development of private higher education precisely universities which is the focus of this paper started 20 years ago with the establishment of Igbinedion University in Okada, Edo State in 1999, followed by two other universities; Babcock University, Ileshan Remo, Ogun State, and Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State in the same year all in the southern part of the country. Comparatively, the American University of Nigeria Yola was established as the first private university in northern region 4 years later. Two years after, another four universities emerged namely Al-hakima University Ilorin, Al-Qalam University Katsina, Bingham University Karu Abuja, and Kwararafa University Wukari Taraba State. As of December, 2020, there are 16 private universities in the northern region with 11 at north-central, 3 in the northwest, and 2 in the northeast against 63 in the entire southern region comprasing three goe-politcal zones as well. This study intends to critically analyze the trend of these development to identify strategies, practices, and lessons learned between both regions for the spirit of educational development. Consequently, this study revealed the issues and difficulties in promoting private higher education include lack of awareness, lack of human resources, and cost of running in the country as a whole. In line with the identified challenges, the Nigerian government and policymakers are recommended to focus on creating an enabling environment to encourage the establishments of additional private universities more specifically in the northern region.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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