• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

What to know about Nigeria’s first online university and more

Explainer: How Nigeria’s first online university will change tertiary education narrative

The Federal Executive Council, on Monday, gave the nod to MIVA Open University, Nigeria’s first online university, to begin operation in the country.

MIVA Open University got the federal government’s approval through the recommendation of the National Universities Commission (NUC).

Why an online university?

Sim Shagaya, founder of uLesson Group, the parent company of MIVA Open University, said: “Our entry into the tertiary segment comes at a time when the very definition of a university is changing and the demand for effective affordable tertiary education is as acute as ever.

“MIVA Open University will push the boundaries of accessibility, affordability, efficacy, convenience and innovation.”

The university is expected to provide accessible and affordable education to undergraduates, regardless of their location or background.

The establishment of the open university is seen by some experts as a response to the needs of millions of Nigerians seeking high-quality and accessible tertiary education.

What online university means

Online universities provide higher education programmes through electronic media, typically the Internet.

They are tertiary institutions that provide degrees with low or no entry requirements. They offer distance learning studies, meaning that physical attendance is not necessary.

Online education is characterised by the separation of teachers and learners which distinguishes it from the face-to-face learning approach.

How online university works

Some online universities are 100 percent online, just like MIVA Open University, while some offer on-campus courses and take a hybrid approach. A good example of this is the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

In a fully–digital programme, students typically view lectures through on-demand videos, participate in group discussions through chat rooms, and collaborate with other students via video conferencing.

Difference between online degree and traditional degree

Traditional degrees simply mean one was physically attending a university through in-person classes.

With online degrees, one is in synchronous or asynchronous classes doing the same curriculum from the comfort of his or her home.

Read also: Nigeria’s first online University gets NUC’s license to operate

Courses offered by MIVA Open University

Iheanyi Akwitti, senior vice-president of academics at uLesson Group, said: “The initial courses will include Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science, Cyber Security, Data Science, Software Engineering, Accounting, Economics, Business Management, and Public Policy and Administration.

“We prioritise removing obstacles to quality education through advanced technology to create and deliver educational content efficiently. In 2024, our university aims to grow significantly, offering new degree programs in vital areas like Nursing, Public Health, and Education, Law, among others.”

This expansion will put the university in competition with established institutions like NOUN, AltSchool and Nexford University.

When is the university academic session commencing?

The university management disclosed that MIVA Open University is set to commence its programmes in September 2023. And this seems to be in line with Nigeria’s tertiary education calendar.

It is believed that this will pave the way for students who missed out on physical university admission to make the best of their time by enrolling on online programmes.

For many years, Nigeria has been witnessing a surge in the number of candidates registering for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), with 1.8 million candidates recorded in 2022.

Nevertheless, research has shown that a considerable portion of these candidates could not secure admission into conventional universities in the country.

Experts believe that learning outcomes significantly determine the employability of online graduates after school. Hence, it is imperative that the management of MIVA Open University devise systemic and coordinated strategies to inculcate quality learning for its potential students, they said.

Stanley Alaubi, senior lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, commended the federal government for giving its nod to the first online university.