Some academics have said that the capital market offered unique opportunities to sustainably fund universities in the country.
They said this at a one-day webinar symposium on “Sustainable Funding for Universities in Nigeria’’, which was organised by the Association of Capital Market Academics of Nigeria, ACMAN, on Friday.
The title of the symposium is “Any Capital Market Solution to University Funding in Nigeria’’.
Dr Suleyman Ndanusa, the former Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, said the country’s higher education sub-sector had grown from one University College in 1948 to 217 universities as of August.
He said that universities in the country could only accommodate between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the 1.5 to 1.7 million candidates who sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME.
Mr Ndanusa said that funding challenges for universities would further exacerbate due to the huge deficit in the national budget.
He said that creative sources of funding and new value propositions for the traditional sources of funding would be the solution for universities.
Mr Ndanusa said that funding priorities for universities should revolve around research, teaching and entrepreneurship, saying that the capital market offered unique and flexible channels of achieving that.
“Universities can raise straight project tight bonds for students’ accommodation, new infrastructure can be funded through impact bonds.
“Alumni bonds, projects can be packaged to attract alumni investments.
“Instead of waiting for alumni members to give free money for projects, you can entice members with a bond they can invest and get returns but at the same time, creating resources for the university to do projects.
“Public Private Partnership (PPP) can also be adopted in universities,’’ he said.
Prof. Muhammad Malnoma, the former Vice-Chancellor of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said that the government could utilise the capital market to fund public universities.
Also speaking, Prof Magnus Kpakol, former Chief Economist in the country, said the government could partner with universities on some national projects involving research and designs.
Mr Kpakol said the partnership would make universities to get funds that would help in their operations and activities.
Mr Oluwole Adeosun, the President, the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, stressed the need for political will to enable universities to explore opportunities in the market.
Prof. Tanko Mohammed, former Vice-Chancellor, Kaduna State University, said there was also the need to restructure the university system to bring results.
Mohammed said the restructuring of the system would help universities to utilise funds channeled to the system from the capital market.
Prof. Solomon Adebola, Vice-Chancellor of the Adeleke University, Osun State, said that universities could float bonds after negotiations with the SEC to raise large amounts.
Adebola said that such funds must be utilised judiciously for the expansion of programmes in the universities’ system.
“Universities can issue bonds to be used to generate funds over a long period of time,’’ he said.
Mr Dayo Obisan, the Executive Commissioner, Operations of SEC, said the market had different instruments that universities could take advantage of.
According to him, some instruments can be securitised to provide long-term capital to find solution to universities’ funding problem.
“I am of a strong belief that the capital market has access to such capital and can help Nigeria to unlock it,’’ he said.
Prof. Uche Uwaleke, the ACMAN President, said the communique from the symposium would be sent to relevant agencies including SEC with a view to implementing the resolutions.
Uwaleke said that public universities in the country whether federal or state-owned, were challenged by funding.
He said the aim of the symposium by ACMAN was to have a conversation around sustainable means of sourcing long term funds for developing universities in the country.
The president said the capital market was potentially positioned to offer the funds.
“This is the major reason for incessant strikes by university workers in Nigeria as annual government subventions to universities are hardly adequate.
“The situation is made worse by the low internally revenue generating efforts of most public universities.’’