Stella Dimoko First Class Degree And Private Universities...


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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

First Class Degree And Private Universities...

The Daily Trust newspaper has published an interesting feature story (May 15), on the sudden surge in the number of First Class degrees being churned out by Nigerian universities.

Daily Trust reports that its investigation reveals that in the last five years, 16 Nigerian universities have produced a total of 3, 499 first class graduates. Between 2011 and 2016, 12 of these universities produced 2, 822 First Class graduates, and it seems this First Class galore is a growing fashion particularly among the private universities.

This trend should ordinarily be a good thing: if Nigeria can manage to produce more First Class intellects, this should reflect on the long run on the country’s business, social, economic and cultural life. We would have more Ph.Ds hopefully, and so produce more qualified, research academics, especially now that close to 60% of Nigerian university lecturers do not have a Ph.D. The more brilliant persons a country’s education system is able to produce, the better, such persons can indeed make a significant difference and drive the leadership process on all fronts.

The only problem is that this growing trend needs to be interrogated. Previously, a First Class degree, the equivalent of a Distinction, was something quite rare, awarded by Departments after very careful consideration. I am not too sure that the entire Faculty of Arts of the University of Ibadan would have awarded up to 3,000 First Class degrees in the entire history of that Faculty. University departments talked about a First Class as if it was a comet. When students got a 2:1, they were the real lords of the Department, and even then a 2:1 was never given out in bus-loads.

I recall the story of a former colleague at the University of Calabar who was denied a First Class in those days, because he slapped a young lecturer, who had just been recruited and who did not know that this particular student was the star of the department and his Faculty. It was our final exam. He was summoned to appear before a disciplinary panel and told matter-of-factly that university degrees were awarded on the basis of character and learning. Check: it was always character before learning.

He made the First Class grade, but they gave him a 2:1. He was later appointed a Graduate Assistant though. He was also recommended for a Commonwealth Scholarship and sent to Cambridge for graduate studies. He would later prove to be a true First Class Brain. It was also the practice in those days for lecturers to remind brilliant students of the achievements of those who had obtained First Class degrees. Because they were not too many, a First Class graduate served for many years as a role model for succeeding generations.

It was also the case that there were more First Class graduates in the Sciences, Engineering and the Applied Sciences. The Humanities produced fewer First Class graduates. Some of our lecturers used to ask: “What do you want to write that will earn you a First Class? You must be really exceptional to know all the answers in literature, history or philosophy?” Those were the days when a Professor would start a class and frighten you with the information that the last student who scored an A grade in the course was a certain Professor so and so who ‘sat in this same class 30 years ago!’ If you must get an A, you’d have to prove to me that you are smarter than him”.

University authorities created such big myths around a First Class degree that many students just didn’t want to kill themselves trying to get one, only to be disappointed at the end of the day. The students who tried were not necessarily popular. They were labeled “Triangular Students”, “Bookworm”, “Effiko”, or “Akukwo”. Students in the 2:1 category felt more relaxed, many of them could even be as good as the First Class students, but just didn’t bother to apply themselves hard enough. The 2:2 students were easily the most popular. They would proudly tell you “they wanted to pass through the university and also allow the university to pass through them.” Maybe they were right.

In later life, many 2:2 graduates still ended up with Ph.Ds and even became Professors, or captains of industry. We also had those students in the Third Class and Pass categories: we referred to them jokingly as the “let my people go, no-future-ambition crowd”. If you ended up with a First Class, your colleagues congratulated and admired you, but they didn’t feel like they had failed in any way. The Nigerian education system in those days was so good every graduate left the campus confident that he or she had been well-equipped. First Class graduates by the way did not enjoy any special privileges. There were employment opportunities in the country. Companies came to the schools and the youth corps camps to recruit prospective staff, and many “let my people go” graduates also got jobs and opportunities as soon as they graduated!

So much has changed. It looks like there is now a greater emphasis on people getting better paper grades, and with the way our universities are churning out the First Class grades, very soon, there will be a First Class graduate on every street corner. One justification given for this is that the population of students in Nigerian universities and the number of courses, have increased. With 153 universities, we should logically, so the argument goes, expect more First Class graduates. It is also possible that university students in Nigeria today are smarter than the ones before them.

Except that the quality of their grades is at variance with the quality of their skills or the environment that is producing them. No one will argue that the quality of our universities, both private and public, is poor, for instance. Where are the outstanding scholars in our universities who are breeding First Class graduates? Where are the First Class universities churning out high grades?

Within the same period that Nigerian universities produced more than 3, 000 First Class graduates, only one Nigerian university –the University of Ibadan- was ranked among the world’s top 800 universities, number 601 as at September 2015. In the older Nigerian system that I described, Nigerian universities boasted of world-class intellectuals, with some of them ranking among the very best in their fields. There were top research libraries and laboratories in our universities and the environment was conducive for intellectual pursuit.

Obafemi Awolowo University, known then as the University of Ife, was considered the most beautiful campus in Africa! Tourists visited our universities to visit either the zoos or take pictures. The animals in the zoos have been sold or eaten, the libraries are old, with a few now digitalized, the laboratories are either non-existent or they lack equipment. The university authorities complain of poor funding; the lecturers do not always get their salaries and research grants.

The idea of the university is in trouble. These days, Nigerian academics become Professors with “scholarly, research essays” published in departmental journals or in journals published by their friends in other departments and printed in Somolu or Dubai. There are Professors who have never published an article in a leading international journal or conducted any significant research. A National Universities Commission official quoted by the Daily Trust tried to justify the First Class galore in Nigerian universities by saying NUC is not aware of anybody buying First Class degrees and that “our system is one of the best.” I hope that is not the mind-set of the NUC.

Could it be that the examinations have become too easy or that the teachers have become less rigorous in setting standards? It is sad to hear for example, that students in the Humanities, and Management and Social Sciences in some universities now sit only for multiple-choice examinations at the end of the semester, because they are so many and the lecturers can’t mark exam papers?

Our education system is far behind the rest of the world. Are we dealing with a problem of grade inflation? Any degree at all, is useless without the skills and competence to justify it. Private universities in Nigeria are reportedly more notorious for giving out high grades as a marketing strategy to attract rich parents to patronize them.

 A First Class or 2:1 degree may get you a job, and provide you an advantage in the face of the unemployment crisis in the country, but what will keep you on the job is something far more than the paper you hold: talent, skills, competence, creativity, people and communication skills and the ability to work with a team to achieve results. Many employers of labour in Nigeria, have had to retrain new recruits because they are often confronted with graduates with good grades, who can neither write nor think, or who may have learnt whatever they know through simulation or alternative methods. This is the real, worrisome trend, and it only gets worse: the evidence can be seen, increasingly, in the low quality of public debate, the public and private sectors and our cultural life.

Many professional associations try to raise the bar by setting rigorous standards for membership qualification, but of what use is a university system that may have adopted the tactics of GSM companies, offering bonus top ups, to gain market share?



  1. This is so true. Many private universities award 2:1 and first class degrees so easily.

  2. This is nothing but the truth. This private universities have been doing it for to long. It started wiv churning out 2:1 anyhow. Now they have started wiv first class. I can beat my chest no private university first class can stand federal university or state. I have seen them. They are dull and incompetent. Feeling very entitled. It's because of this rubbish they are doing that it's difficult to get jobs. Too many 2:1 students everywhere from private univeristies hence all those companies are just asking for 2:1 or first class cus they no they can get them in millions. Nonsense.

    1. What the heck is "wiv"? I refused to date a girl because of this same "wiv". Stop it. You don't know what you could lose.

    2. Unbeat your chest my dear.

      They are not dull and incompetent.

      NYSC showcases all of us am about bare yanshes.

    3. Please when you say federal/state...

      Do you include ABSU or IMSU? Because I served with people from there and they are numbskulls.

    4. I went to a federal university, but saying all graduates of private universities are dull and incompetent is a complete fallacy. Stop eetttt!

    5. Nne unbeat yourself! You people like to deceive yourselves and focus on the external factors. It's the individual differences that matter. I am in a training school,a class of 30. Number 1-15 are from private schools. Be deceiving yourself , don't go and make something out of your life be beating your chest on school and carrying certificate around !

  3. It is not the number of graduated failures in a University that determines how good a school is....

    It's just plain unreasonable to think like that.

    Some lecturers or departments won't give a first class not because they don't have a student(s) who merit it but because they don't want anyone to break the jinx.

    If I attend my lectures religiously, research my assignments well, do my class presentation eloquently....

    Tell me why on earth should I be intentionally failed or given a 2.1 when I worked for a 1st class?

    Many people would rant about private universities seemingly doling out first classes, i won't speak for other Universities but I know that for Babcock University and Covenant University, First class students ain't dashed.

    People work their ass off for that CGPA.

    During my undergraduate days, i always thought first class was unreachable, But now that I look back, i ask what was I doing with my life that I didn't have a first class?

    Our Educational system is a "cram and Pour" System, so first class really should be easy. The true test of knowledge for a student is not through exams...

    The other problem is that most private university students get a chance to do the course they want, that they have passion for, so it's easy to enjoy the courses and aim for the top, but most students in Public Schools jump at any course available so they don't end up staying at home in wait for their desired course FOREVER. That in itself breeds incompetent graduates.

    P.S My man had a first class from a private school and his brain is very hot (I find it very sexy too)...he stands with confidence anywhere and defend his micro-something something (i am an Arts student, don't blame me for not know any scientific anything), and you need to see the way his face glows while he's at it, but alas! his Ph.D thesis cannot be conducted in Nigeria because no University has the gadgets for his research, so now his hot brain is in another country halfway around the world, he is so excited about all he is doing there and his professors help him so much I fear that they might just hijack him and keep him there forever.

    1. Thumbs up!!! You said it all.

    2. Thumbs up!!! You said it all.

    3. Bipolar, God bless you.
      I attended a private University and i graduated with a First class, my father sold off two cars, collected co-operative loans in different places every session to augment my fees.
      He always said we were his investment and he will do all he could to give us the best.
      Would I not incur the wrath of God on myself if I get to school and not read my books?

      I couldn't think of partying (anyways I never even had trendy clothes), i never went out of school, i read my course outline in advance, did my assignments the day we were given and fasted during exam times. I worked my ass off for my first class...woe betide anyone who says i was dashed.

      I started taking my professional courses from 300 level. I got a Job on my convocation day, some companies approached me as I got my medal.

      I am not a bastard. My parents suffered so much so I could just face my books, why the hell won't I?

    4. Didn't attend a private private uni but I agree with you. The federal and state Nigerian universities make it really hard for people to graduate with first class even when they truly deserve it. The author didn't really make any sense but I will say universities should encourage their students to do a PhD or engage in more research cos that's how it is done abroad. Getting a first class and a 2:1 truly is easy and people should stop complaining about private uni giving it out. These students there actually work hard and earn their grades. In countries abroad lecturers are queried for having less successful graduates but only in Nigeria do we take pride in producing more 2:2 and third class than 2:1 and a first. Rubbish system! P.S I studied in unn and currently furthering in the UK.

    5. Anonymous gangster16 May 2017 at 11:46

      You guys are all correct, and the girl (I guess you're a girl) whose dad sold cars, God bless you for rewarding his investment & Faith in you.

      But can every single first class recipient say this? You know in your hearts that the award for most is wanton & unmerited, you know! That is without prejudice to those few who deserve it.

    6. Nice analysis Bipolar. Our educational system is the major cause of brain drain. How do we build the youths mentally then when the educational system is wack

    7. Heart-warming stories!
      I find brainy men sexy tooπŸ˜‰

      The lady her dad sold cars to get to pay her fees,respect!
      I love brainy women!❤️ Especially With a character to match!

      Wish I could go back in time to change my 2:2.
      But it's well ojare!
      U guys are the real MVP!

    8. Men with brains, sexy af!!!!


    9. Anony first class working girl Weedon ma! No first class material would be visiting this blog everyday to write dat epistle u put up there. U re jobless.and eemmm,studying would ve bn more appropriate than "reading my books"

    10. See frustration on top person matter!!! Anony 14:39 it is well o, e go better.

    11. I attended a private school and my kids would too!

      First class?? Mennnnn you have to kill for it. That's a no B from year one till you finish!

      I didon't want to say anything on this post when I saw it in therowing cuz I got no strength for arguing and I didn't want anybody to annoy Me.
      You just said the truth!
      I graduated with a 2:1 and twas fucking hard!
      If I had gone to a state or federal university I would have been a first class!! No shit!

      Lemme not even talk too much.
      You have said it all.

      Thank you so much.

    12. Last two comments πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  4. This is somethng that should be looked into because some of 'em 'First CLass carriers' can't even write well. E.g. My mother has stuffs to sell. The equipments are see things like this in some organisations. Even internal memo, you will see things like..."Our lab equipments has got spoilt."

    And when you tell someone that 'STUFF', EQUIPMENT, STAFF, etc don't have 's' at the end, they will call you, me or Stella teacher nwa Njoku.

    I still the learn shah...

    Nice article Mazi Abati.

    1. Hey dear,
      Writing good English isn't a judge of just how intelligent one is!!!!

      The white man really tricked y'all properly!

    2. These are basics dear, if at the stage of writing WASSCE, you don't know these things, there's little or no help your University can do to you.

  5. Lwkmd!!!

    Most of the animals in the zoo have been eaten or sold.

    Making sense, Reuben.

    It's not all about the grades. If you're not able to defend it, just become an entrepreneur.

    And a lot of these private universities no follow at all, for standard of learning.

    I'd rather UI than Babcock, for instance.


    1. Hey ma, where have you been?

    2. Tah!

      Those schools are living on past glory.

    3. At least there's glory.

    4. Bipolar don't mind this White Diamond that's now doing hide & seek.Just do quick I wan marry you. I am talking to you,yes you White Diamond.

    5. Lol! ,Bipolar hunnay, I dey o. No mind me, I dey try stop am.

      Anon 12:44, really?
      Interesting. Lol!


  6. Mr Reuben with long short,most of them private unis takes money to give grades,it's VERY TRUE.
    Some of us are just not brilliant and some are naturally gifted.i came out with a 3rd cos I was/am never good at cramming,I read to understand and would put it down like I get it but them my lecturers wants you to put it down like they wrote it,I wonder if it's still that way?its been a long time and my result has never defined me,I know I can defend my 3rdie anywhere............kikikikikiki!!!!

    1. Why do you people not put your kids in Public Primary and secondary schools?

      Why private?

      Answer that and you have answered it at the University level.

  7. Rueben are you trying to tell us there is mago mago somewhere?

  8. Anonymous gangster16 May 2017 at 10:31

    Number one culprit is Covenant University​. And we conduct verbal & written interviews, you gotta ask, first class how? It's being handed out like hot bread to guarantee continued patronage AND justify the ridiculously high fees.


    1. Why do ignorant people talk with so much authority!!!

    2. Anonymous gangster16 May 2017 at 11:48

      Why indeed!

  9. Anonymous gangster16 May 2017 at 10:34

    A first class or 2:1 only guarantees you invites for tests or interviews. We know how to sieve the proper grain from the chaff.

    And even if you wriggle through somehow, 8 weeks of training school awaits you, I'm waiting for you, muahahahahahaha!!!!

  10. I earnestly worked hard for dt 1st class but uniben gave me 2:1

    till today, I feel cheated.....

    My folks were extremely happy for me but i wasn't.

    Looking back now,who 1st class EPP???

    1. Nobody o my sister,

      It's just that our Corporate labor market hold certificates in very high esteem hence the hustle....

    2. Eeyahhh Ndooo. Fellow uniben ex- student.

    3. Kpele Victorious. Uniben holds first class in high esteem. Even when you deserve it, your result must go round all the offices both in your department and not, even reach VC office sef. And they will make sure they find one comma to bring you down to 2:1

    4. U are do right @ greatlady n Bipolar

      I felt(still feel) bad my folks were like,whats wrong wt u? This is good nao but my moral was killed.

      Something died in me wen saw d result bcx I knw how I suffered

      Meanwhile,most of my course mates were jubilating on top 2:2

      Looking back,i........

  11. I see lots of points been made here, it's man know man issue now even to get a job! Everything is based on luck and of course with God on one's side,Stella do you know where I'm doing voluntary work,there is a stipend meant for us monthly for tfare,since January till now,we haven't been given so u see? Corruption everywhere.

  12. In conclusion sir... or you are just raising questions to be answered by who?

    1. Did you attend a private University? Writers don't always conclude, this is not primary school. Read the story, draw your own conclusions. He has done his part. Do yours.

  13. I doubt University of Ibadan has given a total of 1000 first class since inception. I remember my dept in arts had not seen 1st class for years and the almost refused to give one guy but he eventually got it.
    Your certificate is given for character and learning. One post graduate student in my dept beat up his babe who was an undergrad in the same dept. The babe was unconscious for days. He was asked to pay her bills, buy provisions and apologize or else he won't graduate. The guy complied sharp sharp.
    I still wont say that products of private universities are dull. But i would prefer my kids either attend fed uni or school abroad. Because i dont subscribe to university students not being independent and free. Let my children ne free and make their mistakes.

  14. I did my diploma in ABU zaria, and even though i soared high with my grades i was still not admitted into degree system because there was ni one to push for me.My father sold his property and later his shares so i could attend a private university, so that age wont stand against me in future when searching for a job.He said the inly thing he wants from me is a First Class.It took tears, Sweat and Blood to get it but i did finally.My mates wondered what kind of person i was..some didn't like me and i never attended parties.I was a library lover, all about my books and feeding well. So if I deserve 4.60 CGPA why should i not get it? I am working today and to God be the glory I am doing just fine.

  15. You know, I thought about this issue too. It's like its easier to have a first class from Private Universities than our public Universities........maybe the students put more effort because of the high fees the parents pay, I wouldn't know..........but it is somehow sha....

  16. Nigerians and difficulties. Because "devilish" lectures won't let students read and graduate with good results, people think you must fail. I studied in the US and also did a course in Nigeria and I can tell you from experience that they were two different experiences. Bitter lectures everywhere, lectures who transfer their bitterness to student, a school system that isn't transparent, lectures sleeping with students anyhow. Please education isn't difficult like this.

  17. I recall the story of a former colleague at the University of Calabar who was denied a First Class in those days, because he slapped a young lecturer, who had just been recruited and who did not know that this particular student was the star of the department and his Faculty. It was our final exam. He was summoned to appear before a disciplinary panel and told matter-of-factly that university degrees were awarded on the basis of character and learning. Check: it was always character before learning.

    He made the First Class grade, but they gave him a 2:1.

    If this really happened then this country is really in trouble

  18. First Class wetin?
    First class my foot.
    Na the equivalent of 3rd class back when Naija University still dey respected.


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