By Maria Li / 27-06-2020

When you think of higher education, Nigeria might not be the first country that comes to mind. There are indeed many challenges that the country faces in delivering a robust infrastructure and system for higher education to its people. However, there is a new realization of these challenges and the government appears to be committed to improving the situation in the higher education sector.

1. Online learning

Opportunities for online learning are increasing across Nigeria thanks to the easy availability of mobile phones. Moreover, the young population finds it easier to use this technology for educational purposes, which makes it a good tool for expanding the availability of education in the higher education sector. There are scores of websites and online high school and university resources that students can use to supplement the learning experience of the classroom and to access resources that the government is unable to provide.

2. Increased investment

After years and decades of neglect, the government is finally taking the bold step to make more funds available to the higher education sector in the country. Currently, there are about 160 universities and 177 colleges in Nigeria that comprise most of the higher education sector. This is mainly due to the rising numbers of Nigerians of university going age. Traditionally, they have faced many obstacles in getting admissions in good universities and colleges but now that trend seems to be changing. More seats are now available in all disciplines, which makes this a good time to get higher education in Nigeria.

3. Quality of research

When it comes to the higher education sector, the quality of research activities carried out by professors and students sets a benchmark for others. A university that promotes a research culture is more attractive to local as well as foreign students since it offers an opportunity for exercising research skills that are valued in the corporate environment. The Nigerian University Commission suggested the need to increase research activities in public and private universities so that a knowledge creation economy can be promoted in Nigeria.

4. Leadership commitment

In recent years, the leadership at the government level has realized the importance of reforming the post-secondary education environment in the country. The past governor of Lagos state in Nigeria, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode stated in 2017 that a strategic change is necessary in the field of higher education to make it more relevant for the students as well as the community.

5. Fast pace of reforms

The higher education sector of Nigeria is undergoing a rapid pace of reforms through which more opportunities will be provided to deliver quality education to local and international students. As part of these reforms, the government is trying to improve the criteria for student admissions as well as the appointment of lecturers due to which high-quality appointments will be made. Moreover, the examination system is also being improved and the requirements for awarding degrees are also being revised to make degree programs for competitive and to increase the employability of their graduates. This is one reason why now is the best time to pursue a higher education degree in Nigeria. 

6. Rising international ranking

Traditionally, the international ranking of Nigerian universities has been poor, suggesting great room for improvement. In recent years, that trend seems to be changing as Nigerian universities show some progress in their international rankings. The Times Higher Education rankings include 4 Nigerian universities whereas one university, namely Covenant University, currently rankings in the top 500 universities on an international level. This is by no means an ideal situation but is one that is steadily improving. 


Pursuing higher education in Nigeria is not as challenging as it might seem at first. The government seems to be serious about undertaking important reforms in the higher education sector to improve the quality of its colleges and universities, both public as well as private. 

As the quality of curricula, research resources, and teaching faculty improves, the quality of its graduates will also improve. More importantly, the fact that Nigeria is an emerging economy makes the higher education sector more affordable compared to other countries in the region. It is expected that within a few years the international rankings of these universities will improve further and will become even more attractive for international students, and reverse the current brain drain in Nigeria.

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