Nigeria’s higher education sector is facing unprecedented challenges, with some two million applicants annually chasing around 750,000 university places; and there is a risk that the gap will continue to widen. Nigeria’s population of 195 million is growing at a rate of 3.2%, which means it will double within two decades.
In 2017, NUC invited the University of London to scope long-term engagement in the development of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Nigeria. This support is being provided through the University of London’s Centre for Distance Education (CDE).
The NUC believes that ODL is vital for Nigeria, as it is the only feasible and affordable way in which it can meet current, let alone future, needs for higher education. Its plans for increasing the scale of university teaching through greatly increased use of ODL are enormously ambitious. Despite strong foundations on which to build in some institutions, the rate at which ODL can be scaled up nationally is limited by the availability of skilled practitioners and institutional experience. The supporting work of CDE aims to accelerate this process by focussing on capacity building at institutional senior and middle management level. Attention is being paid both to policy and to sustainable practice at institutional level.
Over the last five years we have co-delivered four policy symposia and five practitioner workshops in London and Abuja, engaging with more than 70 Nigerian universities in providing a quality assurance framework that supports universities and regulators in resetting the National confidence in ODL; developing a strategic approach to upscaling ODL at national, institutional and department level; student support and wellbeing in the context of ODL; fostering student engagement and community-building; effective learning design; harnessing student voice; staff development; developing institutional capability for high-quality ODL; and researching ODL practice.
Our research on the impact of this multi-year strategic engagement has produced six key findings:
The NUC has referred to the “immeasurable impact that the partnership with the University of London has made on distance education in Nigeria”.