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Nigeria cracks down on “degree mills,” bans 18 foreign universities and suspends certificates from Benin, Togo

Federal Government issues stern warnings against enrollment, citing violation of educational standards; Ministry of Education halts accreditation following undercover report on certificate racketeering

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In a decisive move, the Nigerian government has banned 18 foreign universities operating in the country, terming them “degree mills” and cautioning citizens against enrolling in these institutions. The directive affects universities from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ghana, emphasizing a commitment to upholding educational standards.

The National Universities Commission, in a statement published on its website, clarified that these universities lacked the necessary licenses from the Federal Government and had consequently been shut down for violating the Education (National Minimum Standards, etc.) Act of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Among the universities affected are those operating in Nigeria under names such as the University of Applied Sciences & Management, Port Novo, Republic of Benin; Volta University College, Ho, Volta Region, Ghana; and the International University, Missouri, USA, Kano, and Lagos Study Centres, among others.

Simultaneously, the Federal Ministry of Education has temporarily suspended the evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from the Republic of Benin and Togo. This decision follows an undercover investigative report that exposed officials of a Beninese university producing fake university degrees for a fee.

The report, titled ‘How a Daily Nigerian reporter bagged a Cotonou varsity degree in 6 weeks,’ highlighted the ease with which a journalist obtained a degree within a short period, prompting the government to take immediate action.

In response, the Federal Ministry of Education condemned the certificate racketeering exposed in the report and criticized individuals resorting to desperate methods to obtain degrees. The ministry announced the suspension of the evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from Benin and Togo pending the outcome of an investigation involving relevant Nigerian ministries, the two countries, the Department of State Security Services, and the National Youth Service Corps.

The ministry urged the public to support its efforts, provide useful information, and be assured that internal administrative processes were underway to determine the culpability of staff, with applicable rules applied.

Highlighting the global challenge of institutions operating outside regulatory control, the ministry acknowledged periodic warnings against resorting to such institutions. Efforts to address the issue include collaboration with security agencies to crack down on perpetrators.

The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Prof. Gbolahan Bolarin, emphasized the need for a board to accredit foreign degrees in Nigeria and attributed the prevalence of fake degrees to the impatience of Nigerians seeking shortcuts in obtaining certificates.

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