As a young Nigerian considering your education options after secondary school, the array of tertiary institutions in the country can seem dizzying. There are so many types of schools and so many programs on offer; how do you even begin to choose? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we break down the five main types of tertiary institutions in Nigeria so you know exactly what each has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a traditional four-year university experience, want specialized training in a particular field, or would prefer a more flexible learning environment, there’s an option on this list for you.
History of Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria
The Yaba Higher College (Lagos) was Nigeria’s first tertiary education institution. The colonial administration established the Inner Self in 1932, but studies did not begin until 1934. During the concert season 1930-1947, the Yaba Overlying College provided multi-disciplinary post-secondary studies to its students.
Yaba College of Education (YABATECH) was the first polytechnic in Nigeria. It began as Yaba Higher College in 1934, and fourteen years later, the Yaba Higher College students were relocated to another state to form the University of Ibadan in 1948. The Yaba Higher College was reformed and renamed Yaba Technical Institute a year prior to the transfer.
As time passed, students grew tired of the name Yaba Technical Institute and petitioned for a change to the current name Yaba Tech, which was adopted in 1963. After thirteen years, the name was changed to Federal Polytechnic Yaba before being back to Yaba Tech.
The University College Ibadan was founded on January 18, 1948; this is now the present-day University of Ibadan. Following the founding of the first university, the University of Ibadan, in 1948, the focus shifted from universities to polytechnics, Auchi Polytechnic, Nigeria’s second polytechnic, was formed in 1963, sixteen years after the first. Colleges of Education began as Grade II granting institutions or Teachers Training Colleges and eventually evolved into Colleges of Education with the introduction of the Nigeria Certificate of Education, NCE.
In 1960, Nigeria gained independence from Britain. The new government prioritized establishing more tertiary institutions to meet the country’s need for advanced learning and professional skills.
By 1962, Nigeria had only five universities: the University of Ibadan, founded by the British colonial government as a University College in 1948 but elevated to the status of full university in 1962; University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, founded in 1960, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Efe founded in 1961, University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Kaduna founded in 1962. One Polytechnic Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), two colleges of education Federal College of Education, Kano, Kano state, and Federal College of Education, Zaria, were both founded in 1962.
Today, Nigeria has 170 universities, 43 federal universities, 48 state universities, and 79 private universities. These schools offer degrees in fields like engineering, medicine, law, science, arts, and humanities. There are also 159 polytechnics that provide more technical and vocational education. Nigeria has 152 colleges of education, including 27 federal, 82 private, and 54 state colleges of education.
It is worth noting that the earliest higher education institutions in Nigeria are monotechnics. They are the Federal School of Survey in Oyo, which was created in 1908, and the Federal College of Agriculture in Ibadan, which was formed in 1921. Even YABATECH, the oldest polytechnic, began as a Technical College. There are about 60 monotechnics in Nigeria today.
Nigeria’s tertiary institutions have faced challenges like funding cuts, staff strikes, cultism, and inadequate facilities. However, they continue to produce graduates that go on to become leaders in both public and private sectors, contributing to Nigeria’s development.
5 Types of Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria
In Nigeria, there are five main types of tertiary institutions: universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, monotechnics, and Technical schools. The wide range of institution types allows students to pursue higher learning in both broad and specialized fields.
Universities: Pursuing an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Degree
Universities in Nigeria offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, like bachelor’s, master’s, and PhDs. Some top universities include:
- University of Lagos
- Obafemi Awolowo University
- University of Ibadan
- Ahmadu Bello University
- University of Nigeria, Nsukka
To pursue a degree at a Nigerian university, you must meet the admission requirements, which typically include a secondary school certificate, minimum scores on standardized tests, and subject-specific requirements. University programs are typically 4 years for B.Sc./B.A and 5-6 years for engineering and medical courses. Polytechnics and colleges of education offer 2-3 year National Diploma and Higher National Diploma programs. Postgraduate degrees require an undergraduate degree and usually 1-3 years of additional study.
Coursework at Nigerian universities focuses on both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. You’ll take a variety of courses in your field of study, as well as general education courses. Universities often have strong programs in fields like engineering, business, agriculture, and medicine. Students are evaluated through assignments, projects, exams, and a final thesis or dissertation.
University life in Nigeria can be an exciting time. You’ll have opportunities to join student clubs and organizations, participate in debates and cultural events, and build lifelong friendships. Living in student housing allows you to gain independence while still being part of a community.
Pursuing a degree at a Nigerian university can open up many career opportunities. University graduates are highly sought after by top employers in Nigeria and worldwide.
Polytechnics: Gaining Technical and Vocational Skills
Polytechnics in Nigeria provide technical and vocational education. Some examples are Yaba College of Technology, Lagos State Polytechnic, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, etc. These institutions offer National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) in various technical fields.
Polytechnics focus on practical skills and job-oriented courses in areas like engineering, technology, applied science, commerce, and management. They teach students how to apply theoretical knowledge to real-life situations. Courses last two to three years for ND and two years for HND.
Graduates of polytechnics are equipped with the technical skills required in industries and the labor market. Many polytechnic graduates end up as technicians, technologists, or middle-level managers in organizations. Some may continue their education to obtain bachelor’s degrees in universities.
Polytechnics play an important role in Nigeria’s economic growth and development. They produce competent technical personnel and skilled workforce needed to drive industrialization. By providing vocational and technical skills, polytechnics help to reduce unemployment and alleviate poverty in the country.
In summary, polytechnics in Nigeria offer job-focused education and practical skills to meet the nation’s technical and technological needs. They produce middle-level technical manpower for industries, equip graduates with employable skills and promote economic prosperity.
Colleges of Education: Training to Become a Teacher
Colleges of Education in Nigeria focus on training students to become teachers. Some examples of reputable colleges of education in Nigeria are:
- Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka
- Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo
- Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo
- College of Education, Ikere Ekiti
- College of Education, Warri
Colleges of education in Nigeria offer National Certificate in Education (NCE) programs to train students to become teachers. The NCE program usually takes 3 years to complete. Students take a variety of courses in education, their chosen teaching subjects, and general studies.
Practical teaching experience is also emphasized through teaching practice, where students gain experience in actual classrooms. This helps them develop skills to become competent teachers upon graduation. Students can specialize in primary or secondary education.
Colleges of education aim to produce teachers who are well-grounded in both content and pedagogy. They strive to train teachers to meet the needs of Nigeria’s education system. If you want to become a teacher in Nigeria, enrolling in a college of education is a great path to start your career.
Monotechnics: Specialized Tertiary Institutions
Monotechnics are specialized tertiary institutions that offer programs in specific professional areas. Some examples of popular monotechnics in Nigeria are:
- The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology
- The Institute of Tourism Studies
- The Nigerian Institute of Journalism
- The Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology
Monotechnics provide focused training and education in a particular field or industry. They offer programs like Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), National Diplomas (NDs), and various vocational and professional certifications.
These institutions are very practical-oriented, with curricula centered around imparting occupational skills. They produce graduates that are employable and ready to work in their chosen industries. Monotechnics play an important role in producing specialized labor to support key sectors of the economy.
If you’re interested in a career in a specialized field, a monotechnic can be a great path to gain the necessary knowledge and training. The programs are often shorter in duration compared to a 4-year university degree. Monotechnics continues to be an accessible option for tertiary education in Nigeria.
Technical Schools: Fostering Creativity and Entrepreneurship
Technical schools offer focused, hands-on training in specific trades, skills, and career fields. In Nigeria, there are many technical schools that provide education and training in areas like:
- Automobile technology
- Building and woodwork
- Catering craft practice
- Electrical installation
- Fashion design and tailoring
- Welding and fabrication
Technical schools in Nigeria include; Federal Science and Technical College, Ohanso, Abia State; Federal Science and Technical College, Dayi, Kastina State; Federal Science and Technical College, Ijebu-imusin, Ogun State.
These schools foster creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit by teaching practical, in-demand skills. Students learn through intensive, immersive coursework and hands-on practice. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for direct entry into careers upon graduation.
Technical schools play an important role in developing skilled tradesmen and women to support key industries. They offer an alternative path to gainful employment for those not interested in traditional university studies. Students can get started in their careers sooner, often at a lower cost. These schools are helping to build Nigeria’s workforce and support economic growth.
Admission Requirements for Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria
To gain admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria, there are specific requirements that prospective students need to meet. These admission criteria vary depending on the type of institution and the chosen program of study. Here are some key points to consider:
- Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME): Most tertiary institutions require candidates to sit for the UTME, which is conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). The UTME assesses students’ knowledge in subjects relevant to their chosen field of study. A minimum score is usually required for consideration.
- O’Level Examination Results: Candidates must possess a minimum of five credits in relevant subjects, including Mathematics and English Language, in either the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) or the National Examination Council (NECO) SSCE. Equivalent qualifications from recognized examination bodies are also accepted.
- Post-UTME Screening: After the UTME, some institutions conduct a post-UTME screening exercise to assess candidates further. This may involve written tests, interviews, or a combination of both. The purpose is to evaluate the suitability of applicants for the chosen program.
- Direct Entry: For candidates who already possess a National Diploma (ND) or Higher National Diploma (HND) from recognized polytechnics or colleges of technology, direct entry admission is an option. Such candidates can apply for admission into the second or third year of a related degree program, depending on their qualifications.
- Merit and Catchment Areas: In some cases, institutions consider merit and catchment areas during the admission process. Merit-based admissions prioritize candidates with higher UTME scores, while catchment areas give preferential treatment to applicants from the institution’s locality or state.
It is important for prospective students to consult the specific admission guidelines provided by their chosen tertiary institutions. These guidelines may include additional requirements or criteria that must be met. By carefully preparing and meeting the admission requirements, aspiring students can increase their chances of securing a place in their desired tertiary institution in Nigeria.
How much does studying in a tertiary institution cost in Nigeria?
Fees vary significantly depending on the institution and course of study. Federal institutions charge little, while private institutions charge significantly higher fees. Polytechnics and colleges of education typically charge less than universities. Scholarships and loans are available for those who cannot afford the fees.
So there you have it, the 5 common types of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Whether you’re looking to earn a degree, pick up practical skills, or just broaden your mind, Nigeria’s higher education system has options for you. University, polytechnic, college of education, monotechnic or technical school. Now you understand the differences and can explore which path is right based on your interests and goals. Tertiary education opens up opportunities, so take that next step and enroll in a program at an institution that inspires you.