End of line for the satellite campus

September 14, 2001

Nigeria has closed all university satellite campuses amid fears of falling standards and the over-commercialisation of tertiary education.

Peter Okebukola, executive secretary of the National University Commission, which regulates tertiary institutions, said: "The satellite campuses are merely business centres for economic gain and are profit-oriented instead of providing quality education."

The order has been enforced with a circular to all 35 vice-chancellors informing them that failure to comply could result in their dismissal and the withdrawal of funds, including staff salaries.

Babalola Barisade, the federal minister of education, has ordered that students at satellite campuses be re-absorbed into mainstream universities.

Mr Barisade promised that an Open University with distance-learning facilities would be created next year in Abuja, the federal capital, to cater for part-time students.

Some university vice-chancellors support the closure of the satellite campuses. Ayodele Falase, vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, said their continued existence endangered the country's education system because graduates were not properly trained.

The establishment of satellite campuses mushroomed during military rule when universities, a focal point of opposition to military rule, were underfunded.

With the tacit approval of the military, many universities created satellite campuses in cities - especially Lagos, the economic capital, which has more than 25.

Investigations by the NUC revealed that most satellite campuses were ill-equipped, short-staffed and overcrowded and had low entry requirements.

Student representatives said that more than 100,000 part-time students could be affected by the closures and have called for peaceful resistance to the decision.

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