APPRAISAL OF PRIVATE SECTOR PARTICIPATION IN UNIVERSITY EDUCATION IN NIGERIA, 1999-2012
The public failure theory and globalization imperatives led to the emergence of private universities in Nigeria beginning in 1999. Mere accretion in the number of private universities has however failed to solve the problems of crises of access and quality of university education in Nigeria. Thus, this study is an appraisal of private sector participation in university education in Nigeria with a view to determining if they could be a basis for the survival and overall progress of Nigeria, through functional education. Survey design was adopted. The population consisted of 27,298 academic and non-academic staff, and students of four privates universities from four different geo-political zones of Nigeria, while the sample size of 379 was drawn using scientific table for “Small Simple Techniques” prepared by the National Education Association (NEA), U.S.A.The research instrument was pre-tested using Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficient from the responses to the pilot study. The result obtained was consistent and valid as it yielded Cronbach alpha of 0.84.. While descriptive statistics was used to answer the research questions, simple regression analysis was used to test the four hypotheses. Decision rule for acceptance of test result was level of significance =0.05(5%). There is a significant positive relationship between profit motive and the establishment of private university education in Nigeria. (T-stat=2.632; prob. t-stat=0.019<0.05 and a1=2.245) and R2=0.644. A significant relationship was also found to exist between cost of private University education and access to these universities (t-stat -4.327. Prob. t-stat=0.032<0.05; B1=1.089 and R2=0.687). Cultural and environmental factors exert negative but statistically insignificant effect on the growth and development of private universities (t-stat= -2.112; p-value=0.125<0.05 and π1=0.687 and R2=59.8%. Finally, the study revealed a significant positive relationship between private universities and factors external to them such as international collaboration, attraction of foreign direct investment, and a large population of prospective candidates qualified for university education (t-stat=5.878%; Prob. t-stat=0.000; λ1=0.658 and R2=0.711). The study recommended among others: that government should stop granting operating licenses for the establishment of more private universities answering to profit logic. As crises of access and quality persist in the face of 61 private universities, the government and stakeholders must look elsewhere other than proliferation of private universities, for solution; to alleviate the problems of private universities, they should be allowed to benefit from TETFUND. Once this happened, government should be able to peg tuition and other costs of private universities, and thus enable more students to access them.