FULL LIST: Blacklisted foreign universities in Nigeria

The Federal Government has banned 18 foreign universities operating in Nigeria, describing them as “degree mills,’’ warning Nigerians to avoid enrolling in such institutions.

The directive affected five universities from the United States, six from the United Kingdom, and three Ghanaian tertiary institutions.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Education on Tuesday announced the temporary suspension of evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from the Republic of Benin and Togo.

Announcing the ban in a statement published on its website, the National Universities Commission explained that the Federal Government had not licensed the affected universities and they had been closed down.

It stated, “The National Universities Commission wishes to announce to the general public, especially parents and prospective undergraduates that the under-listed “degree mills” have not been licensed by the Federal Government and have therefore been closed down for violating the Education (National Minimum Standards, etc.) Act of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The affected schools are the University of Applied Sciences & Management, Port Novo, Republic of Benin, or any of its other campuses in Nigeria; Volta University College, Ho, Volta Region, Ghana, or any of its other campuses in Nigeria; the International University, Missouri, USA, Kano, and Lagos Study Centres, or any of its campuses in Nigeria and the Columbus University, United Kingdom operating anywhere in Nigeria.

The list also included Tiu International University, UK; Pebbles University, UK, operating anywhere in Nigeria; London External Studies UK operating anywhere in Nigeria; Pilgrims University operating anywhere in Nigeria; West African Christian University operating anywhere in Nigeria; EC-Council University, USA, Ikeja, Lagos Study Centre and Concept College/Universities (London) Ilorin or any of its campuses in Nigeria.

Others are Houdegbe North American University campuses in Nigeria; Irish University Business School London, operating anywhere in Nigeria; University of Education, Winneba Ghana, operating anywhere in Nigeria; Cape Coast University, Ghana, operating anywhere in Nigeria; African University Cooperative Development, Cotonou, Benin Republic, operating anywhere in Nigeria; Pacific Western University, Denver, Colorado, Owerri Study Centre and Evangel University of America & Chudick Management Academic, Lagos.

In a move to sanitize the education sector, the Ministry of Education said it was temporarily suspending the evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from the Republic of Benin and Togo.

The decision was a sequel to an undercover investigative report titled, ‘How Daily Nigerian reporter bagged Cotonou varsity degree in 6 weeks,’ published by the Daily Nigerian newspaper.

The report exposed how some officials of the Beninese University produced fake university degrees for a fee.

Fake certificate

The investigative reporter, Umar Audu, bagged a degree from the institution within six weeks and also participated in the mandatory one-year scheme organized by the National Youth Service Corps.

Audu, who reached out to the syndicate that specializes in selling degree certificates in December 2022, graduated in February 2023 and was issued a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication certificate from the Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, Cotonou, Benin Republic.

In reaction, the Federal Ministry of Education in a statement on Tuesday, decried the certificate racketeering exposed by the report and berated Nigerians who engaged in desperate methods to get a degree.

According to the statement by Augustina Obilor-Duru on behalf of the Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, the suspension of the evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from the Republic of Benin and Togo would subsist pending the outcome of an investigation involving the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education of Nigeria, the two countries as well as the Department of State Security Services and the National Youths Service Corps.

The statement read, “The Federal Ministry of Education vehemently decries such acts and with effect from 2nd January 2024 is suspending evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from Benin and Togo Republics pending the outcome of an investigation that would involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria and the two countries, the ministries responsible for Education in the two countries as well the Department of State Security Services and the National Youths Service Corps.

“The ministry therefore wishes to call on the general public to support its efforts, show understanding, and provide useful information that will assist the Committee in finding lasting solutions to prevent further occurrence.

“The ministry has also commenced internal administrative processes to determine the culpability or otherwise of her staff for which applicable Public Service Rules would be applied.’’

The ministry further noted that the issue of institutions that exist on paper or operate clandestinely outside the control of regulators is a global problem that all countries grapple with.

“The FME has been contending with the problem, including illegal institutions located abroad or at home preying on unsuspecting, innocent Nigerians and some desperate Nigerians who deliberately patronize such outlets.

“Periodically, warnings have been issued by the ministry and NUC against the resort to such institutions and in some instances, reports made to security agencies to clamp down on the perpetrators. The ministry will continue to review its strategy to plug any loopholes, processes, and procedures and deal decisively with any conniving officials,” it stated.

The PUNCH reports that in 2020, the NYSC said it would commence the prosecution of Nigerian graduates with fake credentials, especially from West African countries.

A former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed also in 2020 noted that certain Nigerians were purchasing fake degrees from degree mills in and out of Nigeria.

In September 2023, a newspaper exposed a certain London Graduate School selling fake honorary degrees to Nigerians.

Commenting on the development, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Prof. Gbolahan Bolarin, called for the establishment of a board to accredit foreign degrees in Nigeria.

The Professor of Mathematics also blamed the high number of fake degrees from degree mills in West African countries on the quest by Nigerians willing to cut corners in their quests to obtain degree certificates.

Speaking in an interview with our correspondent, Gbolahan said, “I think the quest for a fast way to obtaining degrees is the main motive behind this. Nigerians, especially the youths are becoming extremely impatient and they would look for all means to cut corners.

“Beyond banning degrees from Togo and Benin Republics, we need to establish a board for foreign degrees accreditation or strengthen a department in NUC if there is one in place.”

NANS begs FG

However, the National Association of Nigerian Students has appealed to the Federal Government to reconsider the suspension of accreditation of degree certificates from Benin Republic and Togo.

The students’ body maintained that the government needed to consider the impact of this decision on legitimate students who have pursued their education in the affected countries.

NANS, in a statement by its Senate President, Akinteye Babatunde, lamented that the suspension had affected numerous students who are duly registered and have invested significant time and resources in their education.

Babatunde noted that the affected students now find themselves in a state of uncertainty, facing potential delays in their academic and professional pursuits.

He added, “Many have completed one, two, or three years of study, while others have successfully graduated and are eagerly awaiting the approval of their evaluation lists to participate in the National Youth Service Corps program.

“While the government’s commitment to upholding the integrity of academic qualifications is commendable, it is essential to carefully review the impact of this decision on legitimate students who have pursued their education in these countries.

“We believe there is a need for reassessment, while the reported corruption is undoubtedly a cause for concern, it is crucial to distinguish between those involved in fraudulent activities and the vast majority of students who have pursued their education genuinely.

“Also, suspending the accreditation of all certificates risks penalizing genuine students who have worked hard and adhered to the academic regulations of their institutions.

“These students should not bear the consequences of the actions of a few. Furthermore, the Benin Republic and Togo host a significant number of Nigerian students seeking quality education.”

The NANS senate president also argued that the suspension could strain diplomatic and educational relations, and impact the opportunities available to Nigerian students in the neighboring countries.

He added, “Moreso, legitimate students are now caught in bureaucratic limbo, unsure about the fate of their education and future endeavors.

“A reconsideration of the suspension would alleviate the stress and uncertainties these students currently face. The apex student body suggests that the Federal Government reverse the suspension while maintaining a rigorous and transparent evaluation process.

“This would demonstrate the government’s commitment to justice and fairness, ensuring that those who have legitimately pursued an education in Benin Republic and Togo are not unfairly penalized.

“Moreover, addressing the causes of corruption in the evaluation process, including stringent oversight, robust checks and balances, and accountability measures, will serve to strengthen the credibility of the accreditation system.

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