GLOBALISATION AND NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIESFrom the mid-eighties, particularly 1985 many African countries, including Nigeria were forced to embark on structural adjustments programmes as globalisation intensified. Privatisation and commercialisation became the guiding economic trajectory. It was believed that the provision of social services, of which university education is a critical part, would be more effective if handled by the ‘invisible hand’. Consequently, the forces of demand and supply were unleashed on universities. This dealt a devastating blow on universities as they started transforming into markets of some sorts for merchandise purposes. The conversion of universities to revenue generating centers is conspicuous as there are sign boards of various businesses in and around university campuses.
Subsidised catering services for students have been discontinued in the university system as part of the structural adjustments which came with globalisation. In fact, private sector initiatives have sprang up and students are left at the mercy of food vending markets. Across Nigerian university campuses, the discontinuation of centrally organised catering service has compelled some students to cook in the hostels and others to purchase food from sellers, including mobile hawkers. These huge numbers of eateries are in addition to other businesses such as photographers, stationary and book sellers, computer services and photocopiers. On many campuses, the university authorities have built shopping complexes which are rented out to entrepreneurs. Many individuals now have private companies and businesses, a marked departure from the past when business and academic engagement were thought to be strange bedfellows.
Among services privatised and commercialised are inter and intra-campus transportation systems which were hitherto free. On many university campuses, private sector operators now provide transportation for those who have the money to pay. In most cases, motor and tri-cycles are part of this private sector initiative.The primacy of the market has affected the courses offered.
Thus, programmes in philosophy, classics, Nigerian languages and psychology have either been “rationalised” or merged with other departments. While the expansion of these courses is being rolled back or discontinued, others in Marketing, Business Management and Law are being expanded in a celebratory reminder of “economic determinism”. Many specialised universities, such as Universities of Agriculture, Science and Technology offer these courses in response to the new philosophy of revenue generation.