There has been so much buzz about Church universities being expensive in Nigeria and I would like to address some of this controversies mostly using Covenant University as a case study.
Tithes/Offerings are used to build Church Universities? This seems to be a widely asserted theory. This is partly not true because most Churches don’t exactly use Tithes/Offerings for building church universities but create special donations for that purpose. Usually, the initial university capital projects are funded with these donations. We have to remember that the core mandate of any church isn’t not to create universities but to preach the gospel of Jesus and help the poor and that is done with tithes/offering to establish outreaches, pay pastoral salaries, build new churches etc.
Donations can’t sustain recurrent expenditure: while ‘excited’ members would usually agree to pay donations for the initial financial responsibility of the universities. No church would be able to get its church members to continually pay for its recurrent expenditure. In fact if any of these church schools were to try and choose continual donations as an alternative to ‘High’ tuition fees the next thing you would see are private university lecturers going on strike.
Are Church universities profitable? I do not believe any sane investor or business man would venture into the tertiary education sector with the aim of making profit. There is a reason why you wouldn’t find Otedola or Dangote investing in education. If you do your research properly you would find that till today Covenant university hasn’t made any profit for its proprietors. Let us examine the revenue vs expenditure of Covenant university for example. The Covenant university tuition(undergraduate) ranges between 600,000-800,000 depending on level/program but I would base it on 700k. There are about 7,000 students on campus at a given time so I multiply 700,000 by 7,000=4.9 billion. So the university’s revenue from tuition fees is about 4.9 billion.
When considering expenditure I would like to keep the value projections conservative. I believe Covenant University’s wage bill to be around 500 million/month but I would calculate using 400 million since that is the average wage bill for a Nigerian university. So 400 million x 12 months= 4.8 billion. I currently don’t know how much CU pays to get electricity but reports had it that in 2012 the university spent 700 million naira on electricity. I would deliberately exclude expenditures like research grant, conference support, Infrastructure, field trips, medical services, internet provision e.t.c because I do not have real data to conclude how much they gulp yearly. So using just wage bill+Electricity, the university has spent 5.5 billion when the tuition fee is about 4.8 billion. This proves the former NUC president, Peter Okebukola right when he said that ‘’Church universities were being too dependent on the Church’’. Also, the VC of Crawford did buttress the fact that the proprietor base still donates 500 million yearly to Crawford as subsidy. If these subsidies weren’t in place Church universities would have been more expensive that secular ones.
Assumed wealth of the Church: there is a saying in Yoruba land that ‘’the chicken sweats but the feathers won’t let you know’’. Would you believe that Oyedepo nearly missed his own deadline for the establishment of the first two halls of residence in Covenant University? because donations weren’t coming forth, until God miraculously provided.
‘Expensive’ tuition isn’t unique to Pentecostal Churches: whilst many choose to assault Pa. Adeboye and Bishop Oyedepo for charging high tuition fees. It is important to note that even Orthodox churches which are known not to be ‘’prosperity conscious’’ charge within the same bracket e.g Bowen(Baptist), ECWA(Bingham), Godfrey Okoye(Catholic), Adventist(Babcock), JABU(CAC), Methodist(Wesley) e.t.c
Expensive tuition isn’t unique to Church universities alone; Church universities are ranked to be generally good with Covenant University averagely in top three on the two out of four most reputable rankings in the world-Webometrics and Times higher education. However Islamic schools that are not in the top 50 universities in Nigeria but also charge about half a million(e.g Crescent) which is about the same thing CU charges.
The underlining purpose for creating Church schools; This is very important, the creation of church schools isn’t to actually teach physics and chemistry, but to create a spiritual revolution. Take that spiritual revolution away from CU, then it is by no means different from Afebabalola university. Therefore, if you are a committed member of your church you are already a member of that movement. For instance I am not a living faith member, but by attending CU I have joined myself to the spiritual movement of the church