Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country is dominated by young and agile beings. These individuals place a high importance on education, for the most part because of society. Most Nigerians believe one has to have a good education to be rich, successful and eventually make it in life.
As a result of this belief, millions of Nigerians apply to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education every year. According to the agency in charge of admissions into varsities, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, universities are the most sought-after of the lot. Hence they are the biggest in terms of size and population.
Formerly it wasn’t clear which university is the largest in terms of population until after a prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in 2012. The federal government, as part of a bid to end the strike, put up a Needs Assessment Committee whose job is to look into the state of Nigeria’s public universities.
The committee was birthed during negotiations between the ASUU and the federal government. Its chairman was Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who in 2015 was appointed head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Needs Assessment Committee made several recommendations, but it also released some data about the country’s varsities. According to the committee, the number of students in all public universities at that time was 1,252,913. It also revealed that of this number, 85% are undergraduates, 5% were doing sub-degree programs, 3% were running postgraduate diplomas, 5% were having their masters and the remaining 2% were aspiring PhD holders.
Nowadays there are more post-graduate students and almost everybody has an undergraduate degree. Nevertheless the most populated universities then are arguably still the most populated ones now. This is because the population is fairly maintained – as students are getting admitted, they are also graduating.
Here are the largest universities in Nigeria:
University of Jos
Popularly called UNIJOS, this varsity was created in 1971 as a satellite campus of the University of Ibadan. It is situated on Bauchi Road in Jos, the capital city of Plateau state. UNIJOS has a student body of over 37, 430. There were 1001 academic staff and 2123 non-academic staff.
The university campus is vibrant and exciting although accommodation provision isn’t gotten easily as there is a tough competition for spots. Furthermore the rooms are shared and the living conditions aren’t 100% okay. Students who aren’t satisfied with this and want better provisions can get a private place in a nearby town.
This situation is what obtains in most universities- there aren’t enough spaces to accommodate students on campus and they opt to live elsewhere close by.
University of Maiduguri
The University of Maiduguri has been around since 1975. There were about 42,423 students in UNIMAID five years ago. The university also has 1196 academic staff and 2,225 non-academic staff. The varsity is located at Bama, Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital.
Ekiti State University
EKSU has gone through an interesting metamorphosis since its inception in the 80’s. When it was created in 1982, it was called the Obafemi Awolowo University. This was changed to Ondo State University in 1985, University of Ado-Ekiti in 1999 and in 2011 it was named the Ekiti State University (EKSU). This name has stuck since then and hasn’t been changed.
The university is located at Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State and has a student population of 44,094. There are 532 academic staff and 1,467 non-academic staff there.
University of Lagos
Located at Akoka in the Yaba area of Lagos state, UNILAG was established in 1962. Its medical campus is built at Idi-Araba in Surulere another town in the state. The school has a student population of around 49,179, 1,052 academic staff and 2, 570 non-academic staff.
Ahmadu Bello University
Popularly known as ABU, this university is the prominent varsity in northern Nigeria. It is located in Zaria, Kaduna state and was established in 1962 like the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife and UNILAG.
It has about 49436 students, 1815 academic staff and 4,362 non-academic staff.
University of Port- Harcourt:
When UNIPORT was created in 1975 it was meant to be a University College. Two years later- in 1977, it was upgraded to a full-fledged university. The university can be found at East/West road, Choba, Port Harcourt. It has a student population of around 53,288, approximately 1,561 academic staff and 1,456 non-academic staff.
University of Benin
UNIBEN was at first established by the state government as an Institute of Technology in 1970. A year later it was accorded a full-fledged university. And soon became the property of the federal government.
The University is located at Ugbowo, with a satellite campus located at Ekehuan, in Benin City. UNIBEN has roughly 56,501 students, an academic staff strength of 1,418 and a non-academic staff strength of 4,326.
National Open University of Nigeria, Lagos
The National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, is known widely as NOUN, and has a bit of an interesting history. This varsity was created in 1983, but was suspended by the government a year later. It was then reopened in 2001 by Nigeria’s first democratic president post-1999- President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The university has its headquarters at Victoria Island and has study centers sprawled across the nation. NOUN has about 57,759 students with 159 academic staff and 954 non-academic staff as at 2012. At the moment the numbers has increased tremendously as it receives applications from inmates and gives them a chance to be educated while incarcerated.
University of Abuja
UNIABUJA was founded in 1988 at Airport Road, Gwagwalada in the country’s capital. The university has a huge student population- 62,528 when the survey was carried out. The numbers would be much more than that now.
The university has an academic staff strength of 514, and a non-academic staff strength of 1623.
Lagos State University
The largest university in Nigeria, in terms of population is the Lagos state university, LASU. It was founded in 1983 and situated at Ojo, close to Badagry, the Nigeria-Benin border town.
LASU has a student population of over 90,885, which is quite large. There are 795 lecturers and other academic staff and over 2190 non-academic staff.