The National Universities Commission ("NUC") was established further to the National Universities Act to regulate the establishment and monitoring of the activities of Nigerian Universities. In exercise of its mandate and encourage greater literacy of the Nigerian people, the NUC has since its inception, approved 74 private Universities.

There are 14 stages to obtaining NUC's Licence for establishment of private University in Nigeria. The 14 stages are;

Stage 1

The promoters of the proposed University ("the promoters") shall by a written application to the Executive Secretary of NUC, state their intent to establish a private University in Nigeria ("the University"). The declaration of intent shall include the name of the proposed University, the location, the mission and vision, the nature of the proposed University, its proposed focal niche in the current Nigerian University System and other relevant information.

Stage 2

NUC shall conduct an interview of the promoters to ascertain their seriousness in establishing the University. The interview shall be conducted by the Board of NUC.

Stage 3

Following due consideration of the application in writing, the promoters are expected to send a representative to NUC with the prescribed non-refundable fee of 1 Million naira Bank Draft in favour of NUC and collect ten (10) copies of the application form.

Upon collection of the forms, copies of guidelines and other requirements are also given for proper guidance. Other clarifications are also sought and given as appropriate.

Stage 4

The completed application forms are forwarded to NUC with a non-refundable prescribed processing fee of 5 Million naira Bank Draft in favour of NUC for processing of the application.

The completed form will be accompanied with;

  1. Draft Academic Brief;
  2. Draft Physical Masterplan;
  3. Draft University Law;
  4. Counterpart Deed of Assignment;
  5. Certificate of Incorporation/Registration of Proprietors (accompanied with Articles and Memorandum of Association);
  6. Deed of Assignment/Certificate of Occupancy;
  7. Letter of Available Liquid Cash; and
  8. Bank Guarantee of Funds to the tune of 200 Million naira from a reputable Bank.

It is usually advised that the last two (2) documents should not be procured by the applicants until processing of the application has reached an advanced stage.

Stage 5

There shall be an interactive meeting between the Standing Committee on Private Universities ("SCOPU") with promoters of the proposed University. Usually, SCOPU invites members of the Planning & Implementation Committee of the proposed university to NUC for an interactive meeting as a prelude to the first verification visit to its campus site. During the meeting, the process of documentation and other matters bordering on University governance are discussed and many grey areas are resolved. The meeting also affords the proposed University the opportunity to interact with the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive of NUC and his Management team for words of advice and encouragement. Also, a seminar presentation is delivered to avail the prospective Proprietors of the basic philosophy of Universities and their societal roles.

Stage 6

The promoters, who had submitted part of the relevant documents, are expected to make full submissions at this stage. The relevant documents include the draft Academic Briefs, draft Masterplan and the draft University Law.

Stage 7

There shall be an intensive review/analysis of documents by experts in relevant NUC Departments. Following submission of the completed application forms and relevant documents, the documents are forwarded to the professional Departments for analysis after which their comments and observations on such documents are sent to the Committee for onward transmission to the promoters. For instance, Academic Brief and Masterplan documents are forwarded to the Department of Academic Standards. The legal documents such as the University Law, Counterpart Deed of Assignment, Certificate of Incorporation/Registration and Deed of Assignment/Certificate of Occupancy are usually forwarded to the Legal Unit of the Office of the Executive Secretary.

Stage 8

A first verification visit shall be conducted. SCOPU undertakes a verification visit to the proposed University to review their documents with them on one-on-one basis and to assess the level of preparedness in terms of documentation. During this visit, inspection of physical facilities is also undertaken to ascertain their adequacy for the proposed Colleges for the first phase. In addition, courtesy calls are paid to the government establishments that provide infrastructural facilities such as electricity, water and telecommunication including the traditional rulers and local government headquarters of where the proposed university is located. These visits are undertaken to solicit support of the host community for the proposed University and also let them know that a University is being proposed in that area. This visit is considered very important as it reveals whether the Proprietor is committed to the project and is a prerequisite to the final verification visit.

Stage 9

The promoters shall revise the documentation based on Report by SCOPU. Following the first visit, the promoters are expected to revise its documents and undertake the modifications of its facilities to reflect the prescriptions given during the visit. The revised documents are forwarded to NUC for assessment of compliance. If found that progress has been made, the second (final) verification visit is scheduled to the proposed University.

Stage 10

A second verification visit shall be conducted.  This is expected to be the final visit to the proposed University, depending on the level of compliance with the given prescriptions. As a result, the documents are reviewed along with the promoters with a view to perfecting them and bring them to an acceptable level. The evidence of available liquid cash documents are inspected and analyzed by the financial expert on the Committee. The Bank Guarantee of Fund to the tune of 200 million naira will also be sighted along with other legal documents for eventual submission to NUC. Final inspection of physical facilities is also carried out to ascertain whether they are in consonance with the approved NUC norms.

Stage 11

There shall be as security screening of Proprietors and Board of Trustees of the University. The purpose of screening the proprietor (Promoter) and members of Board of Trustees of the proposed University to enable NUC ascertain the credibility of those who are sponsoring the University project and to ensure that they are not persons of questionable character.

Stage 12

SCOPU, on return to NUC from the final verification visit, writes a comprehensive report with scores to the NUC Management for its consideration and further necessary action. This will lead to NUC's Management approval of the University.

Stage 13

The NUC Management, upon receipt of SCOPU report on the proposed university, considers and makes appropriate recommendation to the University Development Committee (UDC) of the NUC Board for its consideration after which the latter submits it to the Board for ratification. The Board, thereafter, forwards its recommendation to the Federal Government through the Honorable Minister of Education for its consideration and approval.

Stage 14

The Federal Executive Council considers the recommendations of the NUC Board and Security report on the proposed University's promoters. If approved, a three-year Provisional Licence is granted to the Proprietor. Only satisfactory performance during the probationary period will earn the Proprietor a substantive License.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.