ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN UNIVERSITY EDUCATION

“The reality in Nigeria however is that government and private individuals have yet to fully appreciate that private universities deserve financial attention in the form of grants, donations and endowment”.

In the past four editions I have been discussing some of the issues raised in the article of Mr. Laolu Harolds published in the Nigerian Tribune including the following:

i. Origin of Private Universities
ii. The Role of Private Universities
iii. Contribution to civilisation
iv. Funding by Philanthropists
v. Other sources of income.
vi. On Funding we discussed the role of philanthropists, endowment, gifts, donations, school fees, alumni contributions and grants.

This week, I intend to discuss the role of governments and attitude of government to university funding.

HISTORY OF PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES
To start with, history shows that private universities were established by churches, philanthropists, monarchs, corporation of students, mutual aid societies, governors, communities and heads of state who in their lifetime donated money to start universities or through testamentary disposition bequeathed their wealth to trustees to found universities.

Such Universities included:
• University of Paris which was founded in France by Catholic Church in 1150;
• University of Constantinople was founded in 425AD by Emperor Theodosius II and is regarded as the oldest university in the world;
• University of Bologna, Italy was founded in 1088 by Mutual Aid Society of Foreign Students;
• Dartmouth, a private Ivy League research university in Hannover New Hamsphere was established in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, a congressional minister;
• Brown University, a private Ivy League university in New Port Rhode Island was founded in 1761 by residents of New Port;
• University Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League University located in Philadelphia was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740;
• Cornell University, a private university and member of Ivy League was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White and located in Ithaca New York;
• Yale University, an American Private Ivy League Research University in New Haven Connecticut was founded in 1701 and was renamed Yale College in 1718 in recognition of a gift from Elihu Yale a former governor of British East India Company to train Congregationalist ministers in Theology and Sacred languages;
• Harvard University, a private research University in Cambridge Massachusset in USA was established in 1636 and was named after John Harvard his first benefactor;
• Stanford University, a private university in Stanford, California and was founded in 1885 by Leyland Stanford, former Governor of and US Senator from California; and
• Johns Hopkins University a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland was founded in 1876 and named after his benefactor, Johns Hopkins. On his death in 1873, Johns Hopkins, a childless bachelor bequeath $7,000,000 approximately today $140,000,000 to fund the hospital and the university in Baltimore, Maryland.
• University of Oxford was founded in 1096 by students who had returned from University of Paris
• University of Cambridge was founded in 1209 by Association of Scholars who left University of Oxford after a dispute with the towns people
The George Washington University is a classic example of what operated in the thirteen new colonies of America.

Fully conscious of Washington’s hopes, but motivated primarily by a great missionary urge and the need for a learned clergy, a group of dedicated ministers and laymen sponsored a movement for the establishment of a college in the District of Columbia. Inspired largely by the zeal and energy of Reverend Luther Rice, they raised funds for the purchase of a site and petitioned Congress for a charter. After much delay and amendment, Congress granted a charter, which was approved by President Monroe on February 9, 1821.

In the case of the University of Oxford, it was first established as a lay corporation under common law and was later incorporated by statute formally. The early history of the University shows that it evolved from a group of Masters and students residing in Oxford in the latter part of the twelfth century. The University met in the churches of 81, Mary’s until 16th C. The academic society which they collectively brought in life paralleled similar associations at other centres of learning in Europe, notably Bologna and Paris.

Government Attitude
Governments all over the world do appreciate the contributions of private universities to education development. Consequently, governments support these private universities and their founders not only in words but also by the provision of grants. There is nothing out of the ordinary in this. While government as a matter of policy is not expected to and indeed does not give money to individuals to found private universities, it nevertheless should in appreciation of their work to society support such private universities with grants. Table 1 below shows government grants to some private institutions in the United States.

GOVERNMENT GRANTS TO UNIVERSITIES IN US DOLLARS
UNIVERSITY 2014 2015
HARVARD 799,930,000 805,821,000
PENNSYLVANIA 650,000,000 683,800,000
PRINCETON 272,280,000 274,973,000
COLUMBIA 761,825,000 753,366,000
BROWN 147,499,000 151,458,000
YALE 512,600,000 507,100,000
CORNELL 149,065,000 148,712,000
DARTHMOUTH 42,754,000 42,121,000
STANFORD 1,266,000,000 1,387,000,000

Table 2 is the Naira equivalent (at the exchange rate of N199.22 to a dollar) of the grants made to these private universities by government.

UNIVERSITY 2014 2015
Dollars Naira equivalent Dollars Naira equivalent

Harvard 799,930,000 159,362,100,000 805,821,000 160,535,700,000
Pennsylvania 650,000,000 129,493,000,000 683,800,000 136,266,600,000
Princeton 272,280,000 54,243,620,000 274,973,000 54,780,120,000
Columbia 761,825,000 151,770,800,000 753,366,000 150,085,600,000
Brown 147,499,000 29,384,750,000 151,458,000 30,173,460,000
Yale 512,600,000 102,120,120,000 507,100,000 101,024,500,000
Cornell 149,065,000 29,696,730,000 148,712,000 29,626,400,000
Dartmouth 42,754,000 8,517,452,000 42,121,000 8,391,346,000
Stanford 1,266,000,000 252,212,500,000 1,387,000,000 276,318,100,000

The reality in Nigeria however is that government and private individuals have yet to fully appreciate that private universities deserve financial attention in the form of grants, donations and endowment.

Next week, we shall discuss attitudes of Nigeria government (federal and state) and its citizens to private universities and also the discriminatory distribution of TETFund.

To be continued.

AARE AFE BABALOLA,OFR, CON, SAN, FCIArb.

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