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The Dilemma of Post-Colonial Universities

 | 
Yann Lebeau
, 
Mobolaji Ogunsanya

III. Facing a New Institutional and Economic Environment: Strategies for coping among university students and staff

The Demand for Higher Education and Employment Opportunities in Nigeria

John Adeboye Adeyemo

Full text

I am grateful to IFRA for providing the research grant from which this paper is derived. I am also indebted to Dr. I.O. Albert for his comments and constructive criticisms on an earlier draft, and the suggestions of Dr. Yann Lebeau, the Director of IFRA.

Introduction

  • 2 United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Organization, New York, 1948.

1The UN Declaration of Human Rights2 provides, among other things, the right of the individual in society to education. This provision is contained in article 26 of the document to which Nigeria became a signatory, upon joining the United Nations at the attainment of independence in 1960. Article 26 states that:

Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary Education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available, and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit: education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality.

  • 3 Rome, 4 November 950.
  • 4 Athens, 1955.
  • 5 J.U. Umo, Full employment implications of educational investment in contemporary Nigeria. Paper pre (...)

2There are other international declarations affirming the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These include the protocol to the convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms3 and the International Commission of Jurists.4 Nigeria’s recognition of these international declarations coupled with the need to train necessary manpower to take over from colonial officials after independence has led to a rapid expansion in the educational sector. In addition, various educational policies, both at the regional and national levels have contributed to rapid education expansion - particularly in the southern part of the country, where primary education was universal and free. As a result of this, since independence, Nigeria has invested massively in the educational sector without considering the absorptive capacity of the labour market, thus leading to a wide gap between supply of educated labour force and the demand in the labour market. For instance, J.U. Umo noted the following with respect to education employment profiles :5

  1. As of 1993/94, the country had 37 universities and 5 degree-awarding colleges of education; 30 polytechnics; 57 colleges of education; over 6 000 secondary schools and over 35,000 primary schools. Nigeria is the leading nation in Africa, as far as formal educational establishments are concerned.

  2. Total enrolment in the Nigerian school system is now about 22 million and in two years time (1997), it will increase to 24 million. It is pertinent to note here, that the enrolment pyramid is sharp, with a total tertiary enrolment of about half a million students compared to about 17 million at the primary school level.

  3. The present output from the entire school system (entering the labour market) is about 2.8 million and this will cumulatively increase to about 13 million in about two years time (1997).

  4. When these numbers are added to those who lost their jobs through rationalization, retrenchment, downsizing, re-engineering etc., it is apparent that the number of job-seekers in the nation are disturbingly enormous;

  5. The prospects for job creation, in the medium to long-term, seem bleak, given the observed lagged growth rate of the economy (0.7 per cent) in 1994, as well as in its key sectors like agriculture (1.9 per cent) and manufacturing (10 per cent).

3In addition to the above points, there is an emerging trend in the oversupply of graduates in certain fields and an undersupply in other fields, where job opportunities exist. The issue for research here is to identify why certain fields of study are over subscribed by prospective candidates and other fields are under-subscribed. For instance, it was reported that the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin decried the drift of students towards business courses. Using the intake of the 1996/1997 session as an example, he said:

  • 6 The Guardian (18 July 1997).

Application for admission into our programmes this session have been largely skewed towards programmes in the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences. Of the 15,700 applicants who met our minimum admission requirements, about 9,750 of them applied to business and social sciences. Further still, about 8,950 wanted to read accounting or finance or business administration or economics, representing 57 of every 100 qualified applicants.6

4This trend has serious implications for physical planning in the university, future job prospects and overall educational planning and implementation.

5The objectives of this paper are to identify social and economic factors that have shaped the development of higher education in Nigeria; examine the inconsistencies in educational planning in Nigeria and how these relate to the labour market; analyze the expectations of students for different kinds of higher education and the reasons for their course preferences; and make recommendations based on the findings of the study.

Development of higher education in Nigeria

Background

6The Ashby Report of 1960 largely formed the bedrock of higher education development in Nigeria. The Ashby Commission was set up in April 1959, with the mandate to conduct an investigation into Nigeria’s needs in the field of higher education over the next 20 years. This was largely informed by the manpower needed at independence to replace expatriate officials. The commission submitted its report in September 1960, a month before independence. The report was titled ‘Investment in Education’. The recommendations from the commission had two main objectives:

  1. To upgrade Nigerians who are already in employment but who need further education;

  2. To design a system of post-secondary education which will, as a first objective, produce before 1970 the flow of high-level manpower which Nigeria is estimated to need; and to design it in such a way that it can be enlarged, without being re-planned, to meet Nigeria’s need up to 1980.

7Before independence, there were two major institutions of higher education in the country: Yaba Higher College, established in 1932, and the University College, Ibadan (UCI) established in 1948. The University College Ibadan was created following the recommendation of the Elliott Commission, after the Second World War. By 1960, UCI, an affiliate of the University of London, had established itself as a reputable institution of higher learning. Its contribution to the manpower needs of the country was respected. The demand for university education by Nigerians soon outstripped the numbers who could be admitted and this led to agitation for the establishment of more universities.

  • 7 CO. Taiwo, The Nigerian Education System: Past, present and future. Thomas Nelson Nig, Lagos, 1980.

8Some of the shortcomings in the system include: limited annual intake, the residential nature of the UCI, the limited range of disciplines, the absence of certain disciplines and professions, such as engineering, architecture, law, business and accountancy, that are important for development. It was largely alleged that the university was not responding to the professional demands of a developing nation. Its constitution, policy and administration were also criticized on the grounds of racial discrimination. These were the major problems in addition to the imminent political independence that led to the establishment of Ashby Commission. Its recommendation led to the establishment of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University); and the University of Lagos, Akoka.7

9Between 1960 and 1975, Nigeria had six universities and several polytechnics, colleges of technology, colleges of education and advanced teachers training colleges. Between 1980 and 1982, the federal government approved the establishment of seven universities of technology in Bauchi, Makurdi and Owerri (1980); Akure and Yola (1981); and Abeokuta and Minna (1982). However, in 1984, four of these were merged with older universities, such as Abeokuta with University of Lagos, Bauchi with Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Makurdi with University of Jos and Yola with University of Maiduguri. In 1987, they were given their autonomy once again. Two of them, (Abeokuta and Makurdi) were converted to universities of agriculture (JAMB, 1997). These new generation universities offer specialized courses in technology and agriculture, unlike the older universities that have a broad range of subjects from arts and humanities, to education, social sciences, law, science, medicine and pharmacy. The new generation universities were conceived to meet the shortfall in manpower in the areas of technology and agriculture, which are critical to the development of the country.

10Furthermore, between 1979 and 1984, some states in the federation were granted permission to start their own universities in order to meet the needs of their respective states. The following universities were established: Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Imo State University, Bendel State University, Ondo State University, Anambra State University, Ogun State University, and Lagos State University. Following the creation of new states in 1991, the Imo State University became Abia State University, Uturu; and Bendel State university became Edo State University, Ekpoma. Additional state-run universities were set up in Abraka (Delta State University), Makurdi (Benue State University), Owerri (Imo State University), and Bagauda (Kano State University -which never took off). In 1984, the federal government, upon the receipt of the report of National Universities Commission, established a national university at Abuja. In 1989, the federal government gave approval to the establishment of Oyo State University of Technology, (now Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso).

11The basic argument of state governments that want to set up their own universities, is that their interests are not being met by the federal universities, and thus, they regard themselves as educationally disadvantaged. It has been alleged that the entry requirements of the state universities are not as rigorous as those of the federal universities. In addition, in order to assist their candidates, state universities offer remedial courses to students whose entry scores are low.

12As part of the measures to ensure that qualified teachers are available to the nation’s educational institutions, the federal government in 1982, directed seven colleges of education to be set up, i.e.: Abraka, Kano, Ondo, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Uyo and Zaria to run degree programmes in education, effective from 1987.

13In 1991, the federal government took over the Cross River State University, Uyo and renamed it the University of Uyo. In 1991 when Anambra State was split into Anambra and Enugu states, the campuses of Anambra State University located in the new Enugu State (Enugu and Abakaliki) were upgraded and renamed Enugu State University of Science and Technology; while the Awka and Nnewi campuses (in Anambra State) retained the name Anambra State University. In 1992, the Anambra State University was taken over by the federal government and renamed Nnamdi Azikiwe University. Also in 1991, as a result of the creation of Delta State from the former Bendel State, the Bendel State University evolved into two autonomous campuses. The Ekpoma Campus became Edo State University and the Abraka campus became the Delta State University. In 1992, the federal government upgraded the School of Agriculture at Umudike, Abia State into a University of Agriculture. In the same year, Benue and Kano states established their own universities.

14Therefore as at 1992, Nigeria had 42 degree-awarding institutions comprising 37 universities and 5 colleges of education. In addition, there are 30 polytechnics awarding Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) and 57 colleges of education.

Admission requirements

15There are three types of universities in Nigeria. The first type are the older generation universities. They are owned by the federal government. These are the universities of Ibadan, Lagos, Ife, Nigeria (Nsukka) and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The second type are those established by the federal government after the civil war till date. The third type are state-owned universities, most of which were established in the eighties to meet the specific needs of the state. The admission requirements to these universities are based on merit, catchment area and the quota system for educationally less developed states.

16Before 1978, there were 13 federal universities and no state university. At that time each university conducted its own admission examination and set the rules for their prospective candidates who wished to enter a course of study. What was however, common to all the universities, is that in addition to passing the entrance examination of the university, a successful candidate was expected to have a minimum of five credits at the General Certificate of Education (GCE) level. The five credits must include English and mathematics. The remaining three credits must be in relevant subjects to the course for which admission is sought.

17By 1978, the federal government, through Act. No. 2 of 1978, set up the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). Its main responsibilities were to determine matriculation requirements for these 13 universities, conduct a joint matriculation examination for candidates seeking places in these institutions and place suitably qualified students in the available places within the universities. Nevertheless, each university had a set of guidelines used to select candidates for placement. According to the federal government stipulation, while all federal universities shall offer admission to some candidates based on merit, some students may be considered on the basis of ‘catchment area , i.e. the locality of the university, while others are considered because they come from states designated as educationally less developed.

18Each state university has its own policy and has been set up to meet the peculiar needs of their indigenes, whose taxes fund these institutions. Their admission policies are usually less stringent than the federal universities, and they offer admission to their state indigenes at a lower cut-off mark. In other words, a candidate whose JAMB score is not good enough to enter a federal university, or does not possess the required number of credits in the GCE, often falls back to the state universities, which readily admit such candidates. Remedial courses are sometimes organized for such candidates. However, one must add that there are some candidates who pass the required subjects and meet the cut-off mark but cannot be admitted to a federal university due to the catchment area policy or inadequate space, and are thereby denied admission. Such candidates find an alternative in the state universities. It is for this reason that most of the state-owned universities were established.

Trends of graduate enrolment according to discipline

  • 8 J.O. Adeyemi, Impact of Nigerian development plans on employment generation. Some policy lessons. P (...)

19The demand for higher education has been on the increase annually. It has been observed that part of the reason for the high demand is the overemphasis on paper qualification in the Nigeria labour market.8 For instance, the total enrolment in the Nigeria universities for 1984/85 session was 113,738. Approximately, 51 per cent of the students enrolled for science or science-related courses, while the remaining 49 per cent enrolled for arts, humanities and social science related courses. Of the 49 per cent that enrolled for non-science courses, 39 per cent opted for social science and business management.

20By 1990/1991 session, student enrolment had reached 195,759 and further increased to 245,265 between 1993 and 1994. Enrolment in the social sciences also increased. In 1990/1991 there were 38,109 students studying social science courses; by the 1993/1994 session, the enrolment had increased to 50,239. This increase, when compared to the enrolment in any discipline in Nigerian universities, ranked highest, particularly from the 1990s (see table 1 below).

Trends of graduate out-turn according to discipline

21Graduate output by discipline from Nigerian universities follows the same pattern as enrolment. There has been an annual increase from 27,550 in 1984/1985 session; to 40,094 in 1989/1990 session, and 46,454 in 1993/1994 session. Likewise, graduate enrolment and out-turn in the social sciences and business-related courses have recorded the highest number of students. In 1984/1985 session, social sciences graduated 6,026 students; this increased to 7,885 by 1990/1991 session; and 8,454 for the 1993/1994 session (see table 2 below).

22It is, however, important to point out that the analysis here only covers university graduates. If we include graduates from the polytechnics and colleges of education, the annual figures for enrolment and turn-out is very high.

Regional distribution of higher institutions

23Nigeria is a vast country, with huge potential in economic resources (human and material). At independence, Nigeria operated a regional system of government made up of the Western Region, Eastern Region and Northern Region. Each region was autonomous and hence formulated its socio-economic policy to suit its level of development. The Western Region adopted a compulsory education policy which resulted in a large student enrolment, particularly at the primary school level. In the Eastern Region, however, the people were preoccupied with commerce and trade. This largely affected the development of education in the region. In the Northern Region, the Islamic religion favours Koranic education, therefore, Western education was not widely accepted. By 1948, the first university in the country was located at Ibadan, the headquarters of the Western Region. This again probably influenced people of the region to send their children to school. After independence, the Western Region built a university at Ile-Ife, to meet the demand for higher education of the people of the area. Thereafter, the federal government established a university in each region, one was established at Nsukka for the Eastern Region, another was sited in Zaria (Ahmadu Bello University), for the Northern Region; an additional university was built in Lagos, then the federal capital. The University of Ife was subsequently taken over by the federal government.

24One thing that is clear is that, the political development of the country has been a major factor in determining the growth in the number of universities. As the regional government gave way to the creation of more states, more universities were established in pursuance of creating educational balance among the federating states. Therefore, by 1978, there were 12 states in the federation and 13 federal universities. Three of these universities were located in the southwestern part of the country. At present, there are 24 federal universities and 12 state universities.

25There are both federal and state colleges of education, and polytechnics awarding degrees. There are federal and state colleges that are specialized in fishery, agriculture, aviation etc. Except for the additional six states just created in 1995, most of the thirty states of the federation have one higher institution or the other. In terms of the development of state universities, of the 12 state universities in the country, only one is located in the northern part of the country and it is yet to be operational. This is an indication of the educational gap between the northern and the southern parts of the country. It is even worse, when we look at the number of candidates who enrol for the JAMB examination and General Certificate in Education (GCE) on state basis annually.

Table 1. Trends in student enrolment in Nigerian universities 1984/1985 - 1993/1994

Table 1. Trends in student enrolment in Nigerian universities 1984/1985 - 1993/1994

Source. Compiled from various records available in National Manpower Board.

Table 2. Trend in graduate out-turn by discipline from Nigerian universities 1984/1985 -1993/1994

Table 2. Trend in graduate out-turn by discipline from Nigerian universities 1984/1985 -1993/1994

Source: Compiled from various records available in National Manpower Board.

A review of related studies

  • 9 C. C. Okoye, The place of manpower planning in national economic development. Paper presented at th (...)

26There is a body of literature that attempts to explain the role of manpower planning in national economic development, as well as unemployment among the educated. Economists have long recognized the role of skill development in promoting economic growth; Adam Smith (1723-1790) an early moral philosopher and economist noted that acquired and useful abilities of all the inhabitants or members of a society through education, apprenticeship training, etc., form part of the nation’s resources. Likewise, Alfred Marshall considered education as a national investment and advised that ‘the most valuable of all capital is that invested on human beings.’ A major problem in human resources planning and utilization, however, has to do with how to strike a balance between supply and demand. Okoye noted that ‘while government policy can influence educational programmes, the final decision about any course of study lies with the individual.’9 The wrong choice of vocation is why many educated people are unemployed.

  • 10 I. M. Yesufu, Manpower planning in Nigeria. The unresolved issues. A keynote address delivered at I (...)

27In tracing courses of unemployment in Nigeria, particularly unemployment among the educated, Yesufu10 observed in particular some ‘failings in the educational system which are neither adequately planned on their own, nor anchored to any identified national manpower requirements.’ This situation suggests mass production of graduates without conscious attempt to provide them with gainful employment. Other causes of unemployment were traced to the rapid rate of population growth, retrenchment, and an impoverished economy exacerbated by the introduction of a structural adjustment programme (SAP).

  • 11 G.O. Anadozie, Nigeria’s manpower policies and major programmes, A critical appraisal and alternati (...)

28The view that poor educational planning contributes to unemployment was also re-echoed in the paper by Anadozie11 where he expressed the view that the imbalance experienced in manpower supply and demand equation in Nigeria largely arose from a spatial and structural imbalance in the educational system. He noted in particular the case of course duplications at the tertiary level which has resulted in a large graduate turnout without employment.

29Adekoya in an article in the Daily Times where he quoted one Oladeji who reportedly identified ‘a major cause of unemployment in Nigeria

  • 12 Doyin Adekoya, Graduate unemployment — a mismatch of educational and economic planning. Daily Times(...)

... as a mismatch’ between educational and economic planning. The rate of expansion of graduate turnout is faster than expansion in employment opportunities.12

  • 13 S. Adesina, Introduction to Educational Planning, Ile-Ife, University of Ife Press, 1981; J.B. Baba (...)

30In independent studies by Adesina and Babalola a number of reasons were posited as being responsible for graduate unemployment. These are ineffective educational planning, the pre-dominance of non-professionals among graduates produced annually, the low absorptive capacity of the labour market and the general performance of the economy.13

  • 14 The Guardian, (18 July 1997).
  • 15 P.O. Awopegba, Graduate employment in Nigeria. A study of labour policies and conventions. Journal (...)

31This trend, however, still goes unabated even as more degree awarding institutions are being established. As far back as 1984, the former vice-chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Umar called for a re-appraisal of student enrolment into various courses in the university. He suggested a reduction in university admission into the arts and social sciences as a way of reducing unemployment among graduates. He observed that there is still a ‘giant-size demand for professional and science graduates, who have no problem in securing jobs. This view was re-echoed about thirteen years later by the vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin14 who decried the drift of students’ enrolment towards social sciences at the 1997 matriculation ceremony of the university. It is important, therefore, to investigate why prospective degree holders prefer the social sciences and business related courses. It seems that the unemployment being experienced today is partly due to the over-production of graduates in certain courses - such as in the social sciences and business courses. On the other hand, there is a shortfall in graduates from the professional and technologically oriented courses. The imbalance in enrolment in the social sciences has to be corrected to check graduate unemployment. Awopegba in her study noted that in Nigeria today, graduate unemployment can be largely explained by the high number of university graduates and a depressed employment market.15

  • 16 Bayo Oguntunase, The way out of unemployment. National Concord. 30 October 1985, 2.

32Oguntunase blamed mass unemployment in the country on lack of economic growth, the absence of industrial expansion, the slow pace of technological advancement and a large irrelevant educational system.16 To check graduate unemployment in particular, he suggested that the policy makers should make adequate plans for manpower needs of the country.

  • 17 S.I. Oladeji, Absorption of educated manpower into Nigeria’s informal sector. Diagnostic Studies se (...)

33In measuring the severity of graduate unemployment in Nigeria, the Tracer study in 1986 as cited by Oladeji17 showed that only 5.7 per cent of all graduates were employed as at the time of passing out of the National Youth Service Corps. The figures for graduates of the colleges of education and polytechnics did not fare better, with 6.7 per cent and 5.7 per cent, respectively. A follow-up study of the 1994 university and polytechnic graduates showed that about 75 per cent of them spent between 13 and 24 months before getting employed, while 14 per cent spent well over two years (25-30 months) - see table 3 below.

Table 3. Length of time graduates spend in search of a job

Table 3. Length of time graduates spend in search of a job

Source: National Manpower Board, Lagos: Report of Graduate Employment Tracer Study, 1986

  • 18 S.I. Oladeji, 1994, op. cit.
  • 19 S. I. Oladeji, Graduate unemployment in developing countries and the overproduction hypothesis. Nig (...)
  • 20 M. Hopkins, Employment trends in developing countries. 1960-1980 and beyond. International Labour R (...)

34Using the same group, the tracer study found out from the graduates themselves as to why they were unemployed. From their responses, ‘economic recession’ topped the reasons. This was followed by ‘lack of relevant connections’ and ‘state government policy’ (see table 4). Oladeji18 however, argued that to accept economic recession as a reason for their unemployment is to accept that graduate unemployment is just part of general unemployment. In an earlier study, also by Oladeji,19 he demonstrated that the basic issue is the question of over-production of graduates. This factor surprisingly ranked seventh in the National Manpower Tracer Study of 1986. The rapid expansion of universities and enrolment in the 1980s could be a major factor in the massive build-up of unemployed graduates. This view is shared by Hopkins20 who argued that unemployment in Nigeria would still have been serious even if there had been no recession.

Table 4. Factors militating against employment among graduates

Table 4. Factors militating against employment among graduates

Source: National Manpower Board. Lagos: Report of Graduate Employment Tracer Study, 1986.

  • 21 J.O. Adeyemi, Impact of Nigerian development plans on employment generation. Some policy lessons. P (...)

35The issue of graduate unemployment resurfaced in 1995 at a national seminar Towards Full Employment in Nigeria’. Adeyemi21 in his paper suggested that there must be a change of emphasis in the educational programme in order to reduce graduate unemployment. He was of the view that:

The present policy of proliferating university institutions with a view to having one in every state or local government will have to be de-emphasized if the education sector is to be rationalized from the present chaotic state.

36He also noted the society looks down on any young person who does not possess a university education, and the undue emphasis on paper qualification in the labour market (both private and public) is a major force driving the demand for higher education upwards.

37However, one trend has begun to stand out in the literature, that is the shift from professional qualifications in favour of business and finance-related courses, such that while there is a shortage of qualified manpower in the areas of medicine, pharmacy, technology and others, there seems to be over-production in the social sciences and business-related courses. It is, therefore, important to investigate empirically, factors responsible for such a disturbing trend, in addition to factors that may be responsible for the unbridled demand for higher education.

Data collection and strategies

38The discussion in the last three sections was based on documentary evidence and secondary data. To be able to capture the objectives of this study adequately, there was the need to complement the documentary evidence with a field survey. The target respondents of the study were the undergraduate students in the Department of Economics, University of Ibadan. Students who enrolled for this programme were felt to be more relevant to the issues under investigation. Although an interview with all the students in all the departments in the faculty of social sciences, which are five in number, would have been good, the time and resources needed to undertake such a large study were not available.

  • 22 C. Bikas Sanyal and Yacoub A. El Sammani, Higher Education and Employment in the Sudan,(Internation (...)

39The importance of discussing the strategies used for data collection is based on the belief that the findings of this study are as interesting as the methods used in collecting the research data. The essence of the documentation is to enable future researchers to benefit from the methodological approach and to improve on any shortcomings in the present study. However, the documentary evidence and survey adopted in this paper have been used in a similar study in Sudan and Sri Lanka with very good results.22

Empirical analysis

40A survey was conducted with the objective of analyzing the social and economic factors that have shaped the development of higher education in Nigeria, why students prefer certain fields of study, and the expectations of students with different kinds of higher degrees. The economics department at the University of Ibadan, was the first of its kind in any university in Nigeria. It also has the reputation of being the best department of economics in the country. It was also the first department of economics in the country to start postgraduate training in economics. In 1980, the department started professional training courses in banking and finance and business administration leading to the conferment of a Master’s degree.

41The questionnaire addressed the issue of demand for higher education and employment opportunities in Nigeria. It was divided into three main parts as follows: Personal information, socio-economic background of the respondents and career information. In all, 100 questionnaires were administered. The recovery rate was very high. Eighty-six questionnaires (86 %) were returned and used for this analysis.

Personal information

42All the respondents, as earlier noted, were taken from the Department of Economics, Faculty of the Social Sciences in the University of Ibadan and had been admitted between 1990 and 1994. Those admitted in the 1992/1993 academic session comprised the largest sampled group (69.8 %). All the respondents had been admitted during the period of SAP which started in 1986. See table 5 below.

Tabic 5. Year of admission

Tabic 5. Year of admission

Source-. Survey Questionnaire, 1997

43Another significant characteristic is the age of respondents. Their ages varied from 20 to 34; 26 respondents did not indicate their ages (see table 6 below).

Table 6. Age distribution

Table 6. Age distribution

Source: 1997 Survey

Socio-economic characteristics of respondents

Relationship of sponsor to student and occupation

44Sixty respondents (69.8 %) indicated that their fathers were sponsoring their education. The breakdown of the remaining 26 respondents is shown in table 7 below. Table 8 below breaks down the sponsorship by profession/occupation. Government employees and businessman were the two largest categories.

Table 7. Sponsor’s relationship to student

Table 7. Sponsor’s relationship to student

Source: 1997 Survey

Table 8. Sponsor’s occupation

Table 8. Sponsor’s occupation

Source: 1997 Survey

45The majority of the sponsors (68.2 %) were employed full time, however, a fairly large percentage (29 %) were retired. Six (7 %) of the sponsors were working part time.

Sponsor’s annual income

46The respondents were asked to indicate their sponsors’ annual income. Three income ranges were provided: less than N5,000 ; between N10,000 and «25,000 and above N25,000. The results are in table 9 below.

Career information

47The main focus of this study was to elicit information from respondents about their desired careers, and whether they have made any changes from their original programme. And if so, why?

48The findings of the study show that 25.6 per cent of the respondents hoped to obtain a professional qualification on completing their course of study; while 65.1 per cent of the respondents hoped to have a career from their present study. A little over 2 per cent of the respondents were taking their present study as a result of the wishes of their parents/town’s people. Two respondents did not have any reason for taking the present course of study.

49The respondents were asked whether they had any information on the employment opportunities available in their present field of study; 83.7 per cent answered in the affirmative; while the remainder (16.3 %) said no. For those who answered in the affirmative, 44.2 per cent said they received employment information from parents, relatives and friends. Another 16.3 per cent said they received employment information from books, newspapers, television, radio etc. Only 2.3 per cent of the respondents said that they received employment information from university staff, guidance counsellors, and other students or the student union.

50As to whether the respondents would like to receive career information: 65.1 per cent answered yes, 2.3 per cent answered no, 9.3 per cent were not sure. Almost a quarter of the students (23.3 %) did not respond.

51In order to know whether there has been a shift in the respondents desired fields of study, they were asked to indicate areas in which they wished to specialize after secondary school. Seven per cent indicated the desire to specialize in the natural sciences; 37.2 per cent wanted the social sciences; 2.3 per cent wanted a degree in the humanities or arts; 25.6 per cent would have liked to do health-related courses; 20.9 per cent business; 4.3 per cent law; 4.7 per cent others, (see table 10 below).

Table 9. Sponsor’s annual income

Table 9. Sponsor’s annual income

Source. 1997 Survey

52However, the same set of respondents has its current area of specialization in the social sciences (economics and business). Those who are currently studying economics are 90.7 per cent and those in business are 4.7 per cent. Four respondents did not reply (see table 11 below).

Table 10. Desired area of specialization after secondary school education

Table 10. Desired area of specialization after secondary school education

Source: 1997 Survey

Table 11. Present area of specialization

Table 11. Present area of specialization

Source: 1997 Survey

53Comparing tables 10 and 11 indicates that many students shifted from earlier preferences into the social sciences. Indeed, the respondents were asked directly whether they had shifted from their course of study: 48.8 per cent answered ‘yes’, while 44.2 per cent answered ‘no’; 7.0 per cent did not answer. This shift breaks down as follows: 14.0 per cent of the respondents crossed from the natural sciences and 2.3 per cent from engineering; 16.3 per cent from health and medical sciences, and 2.3 per cent from pedagogic to social sciences (economics).

54The respondents were asked why they changed their course of study. The reasons given include financial considerations, parental or sponsor’s wishes, information received about employment opportunities, a desire to work in the financial sector as a result of expansion in the banking sector, admission regulations and others.

55Contrary to our earlier expectations that more students would likely change their course of study in favour of the social sciences (economics) and business, because there were more opportunities for jobs in the financial sector during SAP, were unfounded. Only 2.3 per cent replied that they changed their course of study to economics because of greater job prospects. Approximately 14 per cent changed as a result of receiving more information about employment opportunities. Nearly 12 per cent of the respondents changed their courses due to admission regulations, while about 16 per cent gave other reasons for changing their course of study.

  • 23 Adeyemi, 1995, op cit.

56In order to supplement the survey, 15 students were interviewed at random. Most of them held the view that, what was important was becoming a graduate, ‘job or no job.’ Adeyemi.23 noted that the societal view that any young person who is not a graduate is a failure may be a dominant factor pushing candidates just to read any course without considering future job prospects. One of the ladies interviewed, Miss Julie O ... claimed that she wanted to read medicine but could not make the high cut-off point required in the JAMB examination. She settled for economics. About 5 respondents wanted to read economics because it is prestigious.

57Although the interviews confirmed the findings of the survey data that career information or job prospects do not seem to have much influence on a candidate’s field of study, the inability to meet the required pass marks for the respondent’s first choice of study and the desire to be a graduate are significant factors affecting the course of study.

Summary and conclusion

58The role of adequate manpower development in accelerating economic growth and development cannot be overemphasized. To this end, the study addressed the role of social and economic factors in shaping the development of higher education in Nigeria; the inconsistencies in educational planning in Nigeria and how these relate to the labour market; the expectations of students for different kinds of higher education and the reasons for preferences among different fields of study. In the course of the study it was found that there is no adequate plan to expand employment opportunities to absorb the rapidly growing graduate turn-out. From the field survey, there is a bias towards social science subjects among admission seekers. The reasons given for this include: financial, (i.e. inability of sponsors to fund long term courses like medicine, engineering, law, pharmacy, etc.), guardian’s wishes, and information about employment opportunities. It appears that many respondents changed from their desired course of study to economics and business because of admission regulations. In personal interviews with about fifteen students, there was one common denominator in all of them: that they would rather do any course and become a graduate no matter the job prospects of such a course. Becoming a graduate is the greatest priority. Both from the survey and personal interviews, it is clear that the demand for education has little or no link with absorptive capacity of the labour market (employment opportunities). At the same time, educational planners in the country do not seem to recognize the need to match job opportunities with educational training. A review of the development of higher education in the country shows that the establishment of degree awarding institutions was politically motivated, and had little to do with the manpower needs of the country. This is why unemployment among graduates has assumed such alarming proportions.

Recommendations

59Based on the findings of this study, it is important that policy makers make a concerted effort to reorganize the educational sector to:

  1. Carry out a comprehensive study of the existing manpower needs in the country with the view to ensuring that the perceived imbalance in graduate turn-out among various disciplines is corrected.

  2. Give incentives to admission seekers who wish to read courses in medicine, pharmacy, engineering and in other professional courses where there is relatively abundant employment.

  3. Make the higher education system more job- or self-employment-oriented.

  4. Strengthen government institutions like the National Directorate of Employment so that graduates can be assisted to be self-employed.

  5. Create awareness among the general populace that everyone cannot be a graduate, and that not being a graduate should not be seen as a failure.

  6. Put in place, a credible macroeconomic policy that will ensure a favourable environment for self-expression and self-initiative. If the business environment is hostile, it may be difficult to encourage graduates to become self-employed.

  7. Ensure that job placement and career information are a part of the curriculum right from the secondary school level. Candidates seeking admission to higher institutions should be sufficiently aware of the job prospects of the course they intend to pursue even before they apply for admission.

Conclusion

60There is no nation in the world that can grow beyond the development of its human and material potential. Education has been regarded as the vehicle to harness and mobilize all human resources for a country’s development. That is why it is important that authorities should strive to match educational planning with manpower needs. It is counterproductive and indeed dangerous to train graduates only for them to end up without employment opportunities.

Bibliography

References

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Adesina, S. 1981. Introduction to Educational Planning in Nigeria. University of Ife Press, Ile-lfe.

Adeyemi, J. O. 1995. Impact of Nigerian development plans on employment generation: some policy lessons. Paper presented at the National Conference on Towards Full Employment Strategy for Nigeria, 19-20 April, 1995.

Anadozie, G. O. 1988. Nigeria’s manpower policies and major programmes: A critical appraisal and alternative directions and options. A paper presented at a national seminar on Manpower Planning Organized by National Manpower Board in collaboration with

International Labour Organization (ILO)/United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Awopegba, P.O. 1995. Graduate employment in Nigeria: A study of labour policies and conventions. Journal of Economic Management 2 (2) October.

Babalola, J.B. 1990. Integration of the University Manpower Production to the work

Environment in Nigeria and its Implication for planning Higher Education in the 1990s. The Educational Planner 1 (3 & 4).

Hopkins, M. 1983. Employment trends in developing countries, 1960-1980 and beyond.

International labour Review 122 (4).

Joint Admission and Matriculation Board. 1997. Guidelines for admission to first degree courses in Nigerian universities - 1997/98 session.

Oguntunase, Bayo. 1985. The way out of unemployment. National Concord (30 October): p.2.

Okoye C.C. 1988. The place of manpower planning in national economic development.

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Manpower Board in collaboration with ILO and UNDP, Durbar Hotel, Raduna.

Oladeji, S.I. 1989. Graduate unemployment in developing countries and the over-production

hypothesis: Nigeria as a case study. Institute of Applied Research, New Delhi. Manpower

Journal 25 (1 & 2).

Oladeji, S.I. 1994. Absorption of educated manpower into Nigeria’s informal sector.

Diagnostic studies series 1, National Manpower Board.

Sanyal, Bikas C, W. Diyasena, Godfrey Dunatillake, E.L. Wijemann, Bertram Bashampillai,

W.M.K. Wijetunga, P. Wilson, Amali Philopupillai.T.R. Shyam Sundar. 1983. University Education and Graduate Employment in Sri-Lanka. The International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris.

Sanyal, Bikas C. and Yacoub A. El Sammani. 1975. Higher Education and Employment in the Sudan. International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris.

Taiwo, C.O. 1980. The Nigerian education system: past, present and future. Nelson

Teacher Education, Thomas Nelson (Nigeria) Ltd.

Umo, J.U. 1993. Employment and manpower planning and monitoring in Nigeria. Paper presented at the International Labour Organization, Geneva.

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Nigeria. Paper presented at a national conference: Towards Full Employment Strategy for Nigeria, 19-20 April 1995.

Yesufu, I.M. 1988. Manpower planning in Nigeria: the unresolved issues. A keynote address delivered at the opening session of a national seminar on Manpower Planning organized by the National Manpower Board in collaboration with ILO and UNDP, Durbar Hotel, Raduna.

Periodicals

Punch 24 September 1985.

Guardian 18 July 1997.

Notes

2 United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Organization, New York, 1948.

3 Rome, 4 November 950.

4 Athens, 1955.

5 J.U. Umo, Full employment implications of educational investment in contemporary Nigeria. Paper presented at a national conference ‘Towards Full Employment Strategy for Nigeria,’ 19-20 April 1995.

6 The Guardian (18 July 1997).

7 CO. Taiwo, The Nigerian Education System: Past, present and future. Thomas Nelson Nig, Lagos, 1980.

8 J.O. Adeyemi, Impact of Nigerian development plans on employment generation. Some policy lessons. Paper presented at the National Conference on Towards Full Employment Strategy for Nigeria, 19-20, 1995.

9 C. C. Okoye, The place of manpower planning in national economic development. Paper presented at the National Seminar on Manpower Planning organized by the National Manpower Board, in collaboration with the ILO and UNDP, 1988.

10 I. M. Yesufu, Manpower planning in Nigeria. The unresolved issues. A keynote address delivered at ILO/UNDP National Manpower Board seminar, 1988.

11 G.O. Anadozie, Nigeria’s manpower policies and major programmes, A critical appraisal and alternative directions and options. Paper presented ILO/UNDP National Manpower Board seminar, op. cit. 1988.

12 Doyin Adekoya, Graduate unemployment — a mismatch of educational and economic planning. Daily Times Lagos (14 April 1984).

13 S. Adesina, Introduction to Educational Planning, Ile-Ife, University of Ife Press, 1981; J.B. Babalola, Integration of the university manpower production in the work environment in Nigeria and its implication for planning higher education in the 1990s. Educational Planner 1(3&4) 1989/1990.

14 The Guardian, (18 July 1997).

15 P.O. Awopegba, Graduate employment in Nigeria. A study of labour policies and conventions. Journal of Economic Management 2 ( 2) October, 1995.

16 Bayo Oguntunase, The way out of unemployment. National Concord. 30 October 1985, 2.

17 S.I. Oladeji, Absorption of educated manpower into Nigeria’s informal sector. Diagnostic Studies series, 1 National Manpower Board, Lagos, 1994.

18 S.I. Oladeji, 1994, op. cit.

19 S. I. Oladeji, Graduate unemployment in developing countries and the overproduction hypothesis. Nigeria as a case study. Manpower Journal, Institute of Applied Research, New Delhi, 25 (1 &2), 1989.

20 M. Hopkins, Employment trends in developing countries. 1960-1980 and beyond. International Labour Review 122 (4) July/August 1983.

21 J.O. Adeyemi, Impact of Nigerian development plans on employment generation. Some policy lessons. Paper presented at the national conference on Towards Full Employment Strategy for Nigeria (19-20 April 1995).

22 C. Bikas Sanyal and Yacoub A. El Sammani, Higher Education and Employment in the Sudan,(International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris, 1975); C. Bikas Sanyal, et al. University Education and Graduate Employment in Sri-Lanka, (International Institute for Educational Planning/the Margal Institute, UNESCO, Paris, 1983).

23 Adeyemi, 1995, op cit.

List of illustrations

Title Table 2. Trend in graduate out-turn by discipline from Nigerian universities 1984/1985 -1993/1994
Credits Source: Compiled from various records available in National Manpower Board.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 516k
Title Table 3. Length of time graduates spend in search of a job
Credits Source: National Manpower Board, Lagos: Report of Graduate Employment Tracer Study, 1986
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 128k
Title Table 4. Factors militating against employment among graduates
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 204k
Credits Source: National Manpower Board. Lagos: Report of Graduate Employment Tracer Study, 1986.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 144k
Title Tabic 5. Year of admission
Credits Source-. Survey Questionnaire, 1997
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-5.jpg
File image/jpeg, 72k
Title Table 6. Age distribution
Credits Source: 1997 Survey
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-6.jpg
File image/jpeg, 80k
Title Table 7. Sponsor’s relationship to student
Credits Source: 1997 Survey
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-7.jpg
File image/jpeg, 64k
Title Table 8. Sponsor’s occupation
Credits Source: 1997 Survey
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-8.jpg
File image/jpeg, 80k
Title Table 9. Sponsor’s annual income
Credits Source. 1997 Survey
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-9.jpg
File image/jpeg, 68k
Title Table 10. Desired area of specialization after secondary school education
Credits Source: 1997 Survey
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-10.jpg
File image/jpeg, 88k
Title Table 11. Present area of specialization
Credits Source: 1997 Survey
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/1024/img-11.jpg
File image/jpeg, 54k

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