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Growing Craze For Foreign University Education

Posted: Mar 3, 2016 at 9:53 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

The increasing number of Nigerians studying in foreign Universities and other tertiary institutions has continued to expose the inadequacies in the Nigerian education system. Although a lot has been said and written about the rot in the sector, it cannot be overemphasized until there is noticeable improvement in that sector of the Nigerian economy.

In the 12th Canadian Education Fair hosted recently by the Canadian High Commission in Lagos and Abuja, where the representatives of about 41 Canadian institutions exhibited their expertise, capabilities and programs to Nigerians, it was reportedly revealed that already, the estimated number of Nigerian students in Canada has hit an all-time 10,000. This is a quantum leap from a mere 800 in 2002. Moreover, this is just a microcosm of the number of Nigerian students in other parts of the world. The United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America are also among the most desirous countries of choice for Nigerian students. For example, statistics by the UK Council for International Student Affairs revealed that in 2011, 17,585 Nigerians were studying in UK Universities. There is also a preponderance of Nigerian students in institutions across Europe. Certain African countries are not left out. It is regrettable that the number of Nigerians trooping to the West African country of Ghana, for instance, is estimated to be about 150,000.

Aside that these staggering figures betray the decay in the tertiary education in the country, it is unfortunate that they also wittingly or unwittingly resonate on the general economic status of the country as this development encourages monumental capital flight. Research shows that the average tuition of some se­lected countries (excluding liv­ing expenses) for undergradu­ates are: USA $8,000; UK 19,000 pounds; Singapore $4,000; Malta $20,000; Malaysia $1,000; Ireland 6,000 euros, to mention but a few. 

In 2012, the Federal Scholarship Board (FSB), reportedly spent more than N900 million to sponsor 150 students abroad, nearly 10 percent of the N14.14 billion allocated to Nigerian Universities for that year. The Rivers State government, last year, reportedly spent about N1.4 billion on Rivers State students on scholarships abroad within four months. This development has also been replicated in other states. This is aside huge financial resources that leave the shores of Nigeria from individuals who are sponsors of one or two students abroad.

Research reveals that Nigerian students in Ghana pay about $1 billion annually as tuition and upkeep, as against the annual budget of $751 million for all Nigerian Federal universities. What this implies is that demand for the dollar would place huge task before the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to maintain the value of the naira, which has come under pressure, forcing it to use the reserves to manage the exchange rate, thereby depleting the foreign reserves.

Nevertheless, despite the huge costs of obtaining higher educa­tion abroad, Nigerians in their droves have continued to join in the quest to acquire foreign education.  This is, certainly, an indictment on the parlous condition of education in the country as a result of the frequency of industrial action in the institutions, the dearth of funds in public higher institutions in the country, the dilapidated state of infrastructure and, perhaps, insufficient manpower in the institutions.

We believe that this development is embarrassing and portrays the country as unserious before the international community. The truth is that the status quo will remain if government does not do something urgent and drastic to reverse the trend. It is important that the inadequacies in tertiary education be addressed headlong. It is a pity that successive governments have continued to pay lip service to the development of education, which is the bane of development in any nation. For example, in the controversial 2016 budget, only 8% was allocated to education. This is, in fact, a contradiction to the promise President Muhammadu Buhari’s government made to ensure quality higher education in Nigeria.  It is imperative that the federal government complies with UNESCO’s recommendation that about 28% of the nation’s budget be allocated to education as the country cannot achieve any meaningful development without a quality education sector. Indeed the federal and state governments must summon the necessary political will, to ensure that the standard of education in the country is improved upon.