Difference between Universities and Polytechnics in Nigeria

The gap between Universities and Polytechnics in Nigeria is still a reason for debate to date. A significant percentage of prospective tertiary education students are torn between attending either of the two institutions.

While education and specialization in a chosen career field should be the primary goals of any student, this article seeks to capture the differences between Nigerian Universities and Polytechnics to aid them in making the right choices.

Universities and Polytechnics
Universities and Polytechnics

University vs. Polytechnic

Universities are high-level academic institutions that focus on theoretical learning to award students with Degree certificates. On the other hand, Polytechnics are tertiary institutions that concentrate on practical and vocational training and skill-building, issuing students with Diploma certificates on completion.

There are many similarities between the two institutions, like similar entry requirements and accreditation, yet the distinctions stand out. Here are some of the differences between Universities and Polytechnics.

  • Polytechnic education is practical-intensive, while University education is theory-intensive.
  • While a University student can apply for their Master’s (MSc) Program right after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree, a Polytechnic graduate has to first upgrade their Higher National Diploma (HND) by taking a one to two-year Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD) course. Many local and international schools have this requirement for intending MSc students that are HND holders. 
  • The study duration for Polytechnic education is comparatively longer than for University education. Except for Medical and Law courses, university courses are shorter in duration. 
  • Apart from Degree courses, Universities offer various post-study courses such as PGD and MSc. Polytechnics focus on Diploma courses. 
  • Many foreign schools and employers do not recognize HNDs as equivalent to Bachelor’s Degrees. 

Which is Better – a University Degree or a Polytechnic Diploma?

Depending on the line of work, University degree holders are generally more preferred than Polytechnic diploma holders. However, for practical-intensive careers like Engineering, Diploma holders are preferred as they have the necessary hands-on experience to contribute effectively to the demands of their work.

It all comes to whether your preference is with the theoretical specialization that the University provides or with hands-on skills provided by the Polytechnic.

If you enjoyed this article, do read Breaking The Stigma Around Polytechnics.

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O. Jasmine-Jade

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