Are fees the best way forward for Nigerian universities?
The University of Ibadan opened in 1948 as a small African outpost of London University, with just 104 students. Over the past 70 years, it has grown exponentially and now has a student body of 26,000. But its chequered history mirrors the fate of Nigeria since then, Olayinka says. An initial expansion after independence was followed by a decline during the Biafra war (1967-1970), and then the era of cutbacks under structural adjustment. With the end of military rule in 1999, there came a period of increased funding but now once again it is seeing government support falling as the country faces a revenue crisis due to the drop in oil prices.
Olayinka argues that the current legislation preventing universities from charging fees to undergraduates is not sustainable if Ibadan is to support its aim of becoming a world class research-driven university.
The interview was recorded earlier in the year at a time of strikes over pay by university employees — one of a series of disputes at the university over the past few years that has led to several academic terms being either delayed or cancelled.
This is part of the Africa’s PhD Renaissance series on higher education across the continent, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.