Universities vs Polytechnics: Which One is Better/Higher?

When my readers ask these kinds of questions, I smile. Those who think they know the right answer will jump to the conclusion that University is better or polytechnic is.

I’m not here to judge really. I will approach this question the same way I treated the “OND Vs NCE: Which One Is Higher? Which One To Go For?”.

You’re actually going to judge yourself whether to go for university or polytechnic. Then, I will give you my personal opinion.

I have to warn you upfront though. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion.

First, the basics…

In polytechnics, you will earn two awards:

  1. National Diploma: This is the first stage of polytechnic education. It’s a two-year programme if admitted through JAMB or daily part-time. A three-year programme if admitted for a regular Part-time. See the Difference Between DPT and FT Programmes?
  2. Higher National Diploma: This is the second stage of polytechnic education. You go for this after ND and one-year industrial Training (IT). It’s equivalent to BSC. It can also be in the form of a daily part-time or regular part-time course.

Whereas, Bsc is usually a 4-year course starting from year one to the final year. Certain courses such as engineering, agriculture and medical can be 5 years or more. Read  Differences Among Nigerian Academic Qualifications/Awards.

Let’s see the advantages universities may have over polytechnics.

Universities May Be Better Than Polytechnic.

Let’s see the downsides of polytechnic education here in Nigeria.

  1. More companies give higher recognition to BSC (degree) than HND. This will get clearer to you if you check the latest vacancies in our national dallies.
  2. BSC holders spend fewer years in all than HND with 5 years (together with IT). Though some courses in universities require more than 4 years e.g Nursing, Medicine, Engineering and Agriculture).
  3. Universities have more art courses than polytechnics. Polytechnics is a no-go if you want Law, English, Philosophy, Linguistics etc I answered this in this post.
  4. Universities have more science/medical courses than polytechnics. No polytechnic offers the likes of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy etc.
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Polytechnics May Be Better Than Universities

If we must be unbiased, we have to look at areas where polytechnics can be better than universities.

  1. Polytechnics are generally meant for the engineering courses and are well equipped for this. If you prefer engineering courses such as mechanical engineering, electrical and electronics engineering etc, your best chase should be polytechnics. Polytechnics are usually well equipped for these courses.
  2. Polytechnics (ND) graduates can start working with the national diploma before proceeding to the Higher National Diploma (HND) level. Universities won’t be able to do the same until they complete their 4 or 5 years courses.
  3. Polytechnics seem to expose students to more practical experiences than universities. At the ND level, you go for SIWES and later IT – which gives you more practical exposures. University students only go for IT usually at 300 level.
  4. Having enough practical experiences encourages more polytechnics graduates to start their own businesses of firms after school. See 11 Courses to Study at University/College to Be Able to Start a Business.

Which One Should I Go For?

This is the point of your question in the first place.

With the comparison above, you should by now, be able to decide which one is better for you. As you can see, it’s all about you – what do you actually want?

If I must advise you, I will say go for university education. This is my personal opinion.


  1. Like I told you earlier, companies here are giving more recognition to university graduates during employment than polytechnic counterparts. Even the federal government that announced abolishing the dichotomy between the two qualifications still limits HND holders to level 14 in promotions unless additional qualifications are achieved before then. If all you want is to work for organizations, especially private, you should consider Bsc over HND.
  2. Polytechnics can waste your time. If you have to go back for HND, it makes 5 years even for the same course at a university. By Maths, 2 years for ND, 1 year for IT and 2 years for HND.
  3. Where you decide to cross to a university after ND, you will still have to obtain the JAMB direct entry form. Whereas, admissions through direct entry usually favour ND holders with better grades like distinctions or upper credits. Can you guarantee that?
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It’s hard to judge here. But I think I had done fairness to my advice on this. Kindly find the real light within you and make your decision thereon.

Have you heard something different from what you read here? Do you think you will go to a polytechnic or university in the end?

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