Just 18,667 of the over 1.6 million candidates, representing just under 2percent, who applied for this year’s UTME are seeking admission to the nation’s private universities according to JAMB registration statistics.
This shows that over 98 per cent of candidates prefer the public universities to the private ones.
There are 50 private universities and 79 federal and state universities in the country.
Of the 18,667 candidates, the Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, has the highest number of applicants with 3, 315 candidates seeking admission to the institution belonging to the Living Faith Church.
The Obong University, Obong, Ntak, Akwa Ibom State and the Southwestern University, Okun-Owa, Ogun State, have the least number of applicants with only four candidates seeking placement in each of the institutions.
A Joint Admissions Matriculation Board document entitled “the Statistics of Choice of Institutions,”  obtained by our correspondents on Monday,  revealed this. It shows that no fewer than 1.6 million candidates registered for this year’s UTME.
An analysis of the document also shows that a federal university, the University of Ilorin, Kwara State,  has 109,484 candidates,  making it the institution with the highest applicants in this year’s UTME.

Already, of the 1,015,504 candidates that sat for the board’s Dual-Based Test and Paper Pencil Test on April 12, only 47 of them scored above 250 from the 400 marks obatainable. The JAMB Registrar, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, announced the release of the results five days after the examinations.
Another batch of 616,574 candidates will sit for the Computer-Based Test from May 7, 2014.
A further breakdown of the analysis reveals that the Bell University, Ota, Ogun State, owned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo,  has 232 applicants; while the American University of Nigeria, Yola, owned by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar,  has 280 applicants.
One thousand, five hundred and eighty-eight candidates applied to study at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti; 349 at the Redemeers University, Mowe, Ogun State; 31 at the Kwarafa University, Wukari; and 22 at the Mcpherson University, Seriki Sotayo, Ogun State.
The Paul University, Awka, Anambra State, has only 25 applicants; while the Fountain University, Osogbo, Osun State has 62 candidates.
The three oldest private universities established in 1999 —the Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo; Madonna University, Okija, and the Igbinedion University Okada — have 2,139, 1,021 and 658 applicants in that order.
Findings show that the tuition in a private tertiary institution in the country ranges between N500,000 and N2m per academic session, a development, many stakeholders say, is responsible for the low patronage by many candidates.
Tuition in public universities is relatively cheaper than what obtains in the private universities. However, the Lagos State University, Ojo, presents a peculiar case, as  fees range from N197, 000 to N350, 000 per academic session.
Some have also expressed the opinion that the bulk of the nation’s choice lecturers are still in public universities.  But the Vice-Chancellor of the Caleb University, Imota, Lagos, Prof. Ayo Olukoju, says there is no cause for alarm over the disparity. According to Olukoju, whose institution received only 88 applicants, tuition fees, preference for old generation institutions and availability of courses are some of the factors responsible for the development.
For instance, he notes, the citizens’ perception of such old institutions as the University of Lagos, University of Ibadan and the University of Nigeria makes them the preferred choices of many candidates.
Besides, the VC adds, many of the private institutions run limited number of courses that “they can conveniently manage to provide quality education to the students.”
He adds, “Many of these federal and state universities have occupied the public space for so long;  hence,  their higher rating and acceptance by the citizens. Again, in many of the private universities, they do not offer such courses as Medicine, Law and other programmes that are capital-intensive. These and many more give the public universities a head start over their private university counterparts.”
A Professor of International Relations, Kayode Soremekun, agrees with Olukoju.
Soremekun says, “Many people cannot still afford the cost of attending private universities and this simply explains the paradox. The cost is deterring many people from seeking admission to the private universities. If these private institutions should open their doors in terms of reducing the tuition, the situation will definitely change.”
Soremekun, who teaches at the Covenant University, also notes that the nation’s private universities are battling with other international competitors in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Ghana, a factor that, he adds,  is contributing to depleting the number of their potential candidates.

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