Nigerian universities have not done very well in the global rankings. In this they are typical of African universities which, with the exception of South Africa or perhaps Egypt, have been almost entirely absent from the well-known tables. At present there are only three Nigerian universities in the THE World University Rankings top 1000, the University of Lagos, the University of Ibadan and Covenant University, all in the southwest of the country. All three of them have very high scores for citations, which may indicate that their status is precarious since this can be a volatile indicator. The University of Ibadan in 485th place is the only Nigerian institution in the Round University Rankings and in the Shanghai Rankings it is in the 901-1000 band.
A two-part article by Ladipo Adamolekun, formerly a Dean at Obafemi Awolowo University and a specialist with the World Bank, in the Nigerian newspaper, the Guardian, proposes that Nigeria should nurture six world-class universities with the aim of getting one into the top 100, three in the top 200 and six in the top 500 by 2030. He proposes choosing the University of Ibadan, the University of Nigeria Nsukka and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria plus another three federal universities selected by open competition from other regions. More universities could be selected after 2030.
Adamolekun suggests that the selected universities be provided with federal grants and exempted from the current free tuition policy provided they offer financial assistance for deserving students.
He recommends that the potential world-class universities should also address the issues of quality of university teachers, quality of students, adequate infrastructure, institutional autonomy, and partnerships with Nigerian and international universities.