As Degree Mills Proliferate, Nigeria Struggles to Fix a Tattered University System

Crushing demand and limited opportunities mirror the challenges across Africa

Degree Mills Proliferate as Nigeria Struggles to Fix a Tattered University System 1

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI for The Chronicle

Michael Madukwe (left), an official of Nigeria's National Universities Commission, orders students to leave the unaccredited Olympic U., in Nsukka. The country is beset by a shortage of universities for the growing number of students who want to attend.

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close Degree Mills Proliferate as Nigeria Struggles to Fix a Tattered University System 1

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI for The Chronicle

Michael Madukwe (left), an official of Nigeria's National Universities Commission, orders students to leave the unaccredited Olympic U., in Nsukka. The country is beset by a shortage of universities for the growing number of students who want to attend.

One morning in October, as dozens of new students mill around the makeshift, half-constructed main building of the fledgling Olympic University, waiting for their student orientation to begin, two police trucks screech up to the university gates, disgorging government officials and gun-toting riot police.

As the students scatter—some with dazed, uncomprehending expressions, others running toward the gates in a futile attempt to escape—Professor Michael Madukwe, an official