The 12 Hardest Universities to Study in Nigeria

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Some experts say there is nothing like the hardest universities to study. For them, admission into any university could be easy or difficult depending on the academic strength of the candidate. While this theory may hold sway in other places, it definitely does not apply in Nigeria.

Here in Nigeria, it is common knowledge that some schools are more difficult to gain entrance into than others. In this article, we outline 12 of such schools. If you are a prospective student of any of the universities listed below, you do not have to be discouraged; as this article was written to help you buckle down and get a spot in the university of your dreams. Let’s go!

The Hardest Universities to Study in Nigeria

1. University of Ibadan (UI)

If you are talking about the most competitive universities in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan has a top place on the list. Established in 1948 as an affiliated college of the University of London, the University of Ibadan is a public research institution in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. It was originally known as the University College Ibadan before becoming a full-blown university in 1962.

UI is a reputable institution credited with many remarkable contributions to the history and development of Nigeria. One of the best in Africa, admission into the University of Ibadan is solely based on merit, and an extremely stiff competition.

UI has the most impeccable learning facilities in Nigeria, a cutting-edge academic system, quality lecturers, and smart students. It is a huge feat to be a student at the University of Ibadan.

2. University of Lagos (UNILAG)

The University of Lagos is one of the hardest universities to study in Nigeria. The university receives streams of application for admission per year, and the numbers skyrocket with every passing year. A public university founded in 1962, the University of Lagos features three campuses and offers many excellent courses.

It continues to rank as one of the best universities, not only in Africa, but in the whole world. University of Lagos accepts over 9,000 students per year, and has a total enrolment of about 60,000 students. Very reputable and popular, nobody talks about three universities in Nigeria without mentioning UNILAG.

From the quality of students it produces yearly, you know UNILAG is worth its salt, as students are kept so much on their toes they end up fitting in well in all kinds of endeavors. When it comes to academics, you will find UNILAG atop. Socially, there is no lagging behind!

3. University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN)

Founded by Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1955, the University of Nigeria is a distinguished public university officially commissioned on the 7th of October, 1960. UNN has contributed tremendously to national development and has three key campuses in Nsukka, Enugu, and Ituzu-Ozalla. University of Nigeria is renowned for academic distinction, and students with incredible intelligence.

As Nigeria’s first indigenous university, UNN was created to mirror the American educational system. Students of UNN go by the nickname Lions and Lionesses. Talk about a university with so much splendor and class; it is the University of Nigeria, and it is as competitive as it gets.

Admission here is on a strictly competitive basis, as candidates are always too many every year. Every course in UNN is competitive and is survival of the fittest. The academic standard is as fierce as the graduation quota, and whoever makes it there is every bit the lion or lioness they say s/he is.

4. University of Ilorin (UNILORIN)

Founded in 1975 by the Federal Military Government, the University of Ilorin is a public university in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. The university is built on a vast landmass, ranking as one of the biggest schools around, in terms of land area.

UNILORIN is so competitive that in 2023, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board recorded it as the most pursued university in Nigeria. This and its high academic standard are what inform the stiff competition for admission into the University of Ilorin.

5. Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)

Obafemi Awolowo University is a public research university located in Ile-Ife, Osun State, and was renamed after the first Premier of the Western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who facilitated the creation of the university. Up until 1987, it was known as the University of Ife.

When it comes to competitiveness, OAU is no joke, with the many thousands of applications it receives per year. This competitiveness is visible in both the quality of students they admit and graduate every year. Being a student of OAU is an elegant badge everyone wants to wear. The thousands of applications they get every year have toughened the race, and made every course arduous to get.

6. University of Benin

Founded in 1970, the University of Benin is a public university located in Benin City, Edo State. It was originally an Institute of Technology. UNIBEN is one of the most competitive universities in Nigeria, and the quality of graduates they produce is all the proof.

7. Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA)

Located in Akure, Ondo State, the Federal University of Technology Akure was founded in 1981 and is a highly competitive university known for its challenging admission process. The thought of applying to FUTA does not even cross your mind, if you are not academically up to the task, as you will be competing against the best of the best from around the country.

8. Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO)

The number one federal university of technology in the South-East and South-South, FUTO was founded in 1980 and is located in Owerri, Imo state.

The university has, since its inception, been notable for academic uniqueness and competitiveness. As a university with a focus on technology, FUTO is a school of dreams for many applicants and is a first-choice university.

9. Nnamdi Azikwe University (NAU or UNIZIK)

Nnamdi Azikiwe University is a public university founded in 1991, and formerly known as ASUTECH. It runs a dual campus system; one in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, and the other in Nnewi, in the same state. It is a federal university and extremely competitive.

UNIZIK is renowned for its academic excellence, and receives oceans of applications yearly. Their Post UTME is, however, the ultimate determinant of your admission chance, as it comes with questions that encompass all fields including ones that do not necessarily relate to your desired course of study.

10. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU)

Formerly known as the University of Northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello University is a public research university founded on the 4th of October, 1962. It is a federal university and the first one in the Northern part of Nigeria. ABU is trailed by many legendary records in academics, and is today one of the hardest university to study in Nigeria.

11. University of Calabar (UNICAL)

Situated in the serene areas of Calabar, the University of Calabar (UNICAL) is a certain heavyweight in the Nigerian academic space. Just a look at the University’s wide array of programs in the arts, social sciences, and sciences, and you can understand why UNICAL is a great institution.

What makes the University of Calabar a reputable university is not just its demanding academic system, but the heavy investment it makes in research and innovation. Not only are students trained to consume information, they also actively participate in the academic environment, all thanks to its cutting-edge facilities and experienced faculty.

UNICAL is a strong intellectual center, building a student body that is not only academically smart but also socially and internationally conscious.

12. Bayero University Kano (BUK)

Bayero University Kano is one university in Nigeria that is outstanding for its academic records, and competitive nature. Admission modalities are quite strict, and only the very best students from all over the country and beyond make the cut. BUK offers a wide academic scheme which equips students with a holistic education that stimulates critical thinking, and mental growth.

Bayero University Kano invests enormously in research and innovation, which is how it retains a space in the congregation of the best universities in Nigeria.

University education in Nigeria is survival of the fittest. All universities are great, but some, due to their academic standards and demands, are harder to secure admission into than others.

A hard university to study is not an impossible university to study. You should not be daunted, but rather be motivated to put your best foot forward and claim your place amongst the best.

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