Side Talk: Difference Between Polytechnic and University

by Sanjo
Difference between a university and Polytechnic

We are not doing this to demoralize nor to discourage any  aspirants, but only to tell what is obtainable in our society.
Before you read this write up, may I quickly tell you that success has nothing to do with polytechnic or university. Some people are dropped out yet they succeed.
READ ALSO: Ten Oldest Universities in Nigeria
Mr President (Buhari) is an O level holder but number one citizen of Nigeria. Bill Gate dropped out from university yet a world billionaire.
This write up is only for informative purpose and I decided to make it exclusive and comprehensive for proper comprehension and for any derogation.

Note: We are not among those agitating for superiority of institution.

Difference between a university and Polytechnic

The difference between Polytechnic and University are;

1. Organogram

The distinction of university and polytechnic starts from Nigerian educational organogram. Our organogram is as follow;

  • Nursery
  • Primary (lower basic)
  • Secondary (upper basic)
  • Secondary (senior class)
  • College of Education
  • Polytechnic
  • University.

The above organogram has already made polytechnic inferior to university. It is this organogram that makes university highest learning institution.
Postgraduate programs (except diploma) are only run in university which means even a rector, despite being head of leadership in polytechnic will need to go to university (highest learning institution) if he/she needs to do any postgraduate program.
That is a slap on the face of polytechnic and makes it not only subordinate to university but inferior. It means after HND, if anyone needs to further then you must go to university.
It is the only institution that has the last stage of academic and professional degree.

2. Requirements

Another area of difference is the prerequisite of the two institutions. Before the amalgamation of the PCE and UME, the two examinations showed clearly the level of the two institutions.
The PCE comprises three subjects, while UME comprises four subjects. This has already put university at the edge of polytechnic.

The number of credit to gain admission to university were five credit passes in five subjects while polytechnic were four credit possess as at that time.
After the amalgamation of the two examinations, the cut off for polytechnic is lower compare to university even as declared by JAMB director.
All these are establishing superiority and put in mind of employers that one is greater than the other.

3. Competency

Even though this is not realistic in all cases, competency can never over stressed. It is an assumption that has become practice in Nigeria labour market.
It is believed that university students are usually brilliant compare to polytechnic students. The reason for this assumption is not however far fetched. Why? Before anybody can be a full lecturer in university, he/she must have master degree.
An HND holder plus PGD could be lecturer in polytechnic. This to Nigeria employers shows the strength of the two graduates.
A university has many doctorate degree holders but we can count the number of doctorate degree holders in any polytechnic.
Immediately a lecturer in polytechnic acquires doctorate degree, he/she departs the system and starts lobbying to become university lecturer.
Also, hardly you can find professor in polytechnic. A professor in polytechnic will likely be in private which means he/she owns the institution.
Ordinary doctorate degree, lecturer will discard polytechnic and get employment in university to attain the level of professor.
Since university has more doctorate degree holders and professors but polytechnic has less or not at all, hence the assumption that he who taught by PhD holders and many professors cannot be compare by student who only taught by Masters degree holder.
Most of these Masters degree holders are also student of Ph.D lecturers. This is not our assumptions but generality of our society. We are not saying they are right, I am only pasting their postulations.

4. Professional and Academic

To further the difference is professionalism and academic nature. The best language to carry many people along is practical and theoretical nature. Polytechnic is considered an institution for professional studies while university is considered an institution for academic study.

The system of polytechnic is believed to be professional (practical) in nature while university learning is base on thesis (theory).
In other word; in company like Unilever, a polytechnic graduate in electrical engineering will be employed as technician to work on machine while university graduate will be employed as someone to formulate the theory; manager.
It is general belief that the polytechnic graduates will be good at work while university graduate will be good at research.
A university graduate will design and polytechnic graduate will carry on the design.
This happens in all manufacturing companies. I have had practical experiences in the following companies;

  • Unilever Nig Plc
  • Nestle Nig Plc
  • Cadbury Nig Plc
  • Yale Food Nig Plc, and
  • Nigeria Bolting Company 7up.

5. Opportunities

Some job vacancies exclude in entirety HND holders. I can give some links of some websites related to job recruitment where only degree are giving opportunity to apply.
DSS recruitment of 2017 allowed only degree holder to apply but no place for HND holder. The NNPC recruitment of 2019 gave room to only degree holder but scraped HND holder in its recruitment.
The 2020 immigration recruitment gives degree opportunity to apply for superintendent cadre while HND inspectorate cadre (senior inspector).
Though both on level 8, same salary but inspectorate and superintendent cadre are not really equal in activities in that organization.

6. Promotion

HND holders cannot go beyond level 14 in any government parastatal without further his education while degree counterpart can get to last level on the ladder without any additional qualifications

7. Lecturer Ambition

Anyone aspiring to become lecturer has less chance to actualize his/her dream if attended polytechnic. Polytechnic certificate is consider professional but less academic.
Therefore, a graduate from polytechnic is believed to lack more thesis experience that can make him/her fit for lecturing job especially in university.
This is not our assumption but what is obtainable out there. I am not commending it in anyway, I am just stating it for informative purpose.

There are lecturers who are graduates of polytechnic, yes but be truthful to your sincerity what is their percentage to the degree counterpart? Some even go get their degree after PGD and master to do Ph.D

8. Type of Masters

We have two types of Masters degree. Professional Masters and academic Masters. Some universities in Nigeria will not still allow HND to study academic Masters even after his/her PGD.
Example of this is Lagos State University. An HND holder plus PGD in mass communication cannot study Msc (academic master) in Mass Communication in LASU.
Instead, he/she will be subjected to study MCS Masters of communication studies, a professional master while Masters of Mass Communication is an academic master.
NOTE: Nigeria government for decade had tried to bridge the gab but it is a bit cumbersome to get it done.
Despite the several announcements of equation of both certificates, it is more a paper work than practical as it doesn’t practice in anyway absoluteness.
Why HND and Degree is not allow to apply for superintendent cadre in ongoing recruitment if both certificate equal and consider same.
Always remember, we are  not faulting or derogating polytechnic. I am just giving information. However, I must say this; Nigeria Customs Requirement last year 2019 allowed both certificates to apply for same position; superintendent cadre.
Let me reiterate this emphatically that; certificate is not success and never criteria to determine it. My humble self talking here had worked under a boss who is an ND and even have we Masters degree holder under him.
I had also interviewed people and prefer ND holder to a Bsc holder. I had worked with a boss studied in one of the best universities abroad yet no nothing in profession he claimed he to be specialized.
No one should feel inferior for going to polytechnic, it is your worth that will prove you at the end. Just develop yourself academically and make sure you can even go beyond ordinary defense of your certificate.

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