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Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, students most mobile in search of university education globally

Number of Nigerian students seeking university education outside the country is the highest in Sub-saharan Africa. Campus France datasets has revealed.

The Campus France a public agency that attracts and provides educational services to international students studying in France identified that the volume of mobile students from Nigeria grew by 50 percent in five years, reaching 85,000 in 2017 and occupying the eighth position globally in terms of outbound students.

Nigeria is followed by Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Angola, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya in terms of countries in Sub-saharan Africa with high numbers of university students outside their homeland.

The report noted that University students in SubSaharan Africa have become the most mobile tertiary students in the world, as about 5 percent of the 8.1 million tertiary students on the continent have crossed a border, as compared to the global average of 2.4.

According to the report, more than 404,000 university students from Sub-saharan Africa are currently studying outside their homeland. Indicators suggested that the region’s number of outbound students will continue to rise, as the total student population is expected to reach 22 million by 2027.

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“Over the past five years, the number of students from Sub-saharan Africa in the United States grew by 29.5 percent,” noted the United States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Campus France report while explaining the catalyst behind the higher mobility, indicated that beyond the demographic surges, the unmet demand for higher education in Sub-saharan Africa as a result of saturation of universities in the region has become a major catalyst according to Beatrice Khaiat, the general director of Campus France.

“Currently, about threequarters of the students from Sub-saharan Africa who earn their degree outside their home country earn it outside Africa,” said Khaiat.

The real or perceived uneven quality of degrees and diplomas is also driving African students to foreign destinations such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the US. The issue is that, in competition for a job, a student is interested in a degree that will provide an edge over candidates with similar degrees, stated ICEF Monitor.

The idea that a degree obtained outside their country is of higher quality than that from a local university is rife in many countries in Sub-saharan Africa, a factor that tends to influence the affluent urban middleclasses towards sending their children abroad to earn a bachelor or a masters degree.

Subsequently, instead of using financial resources to improve the quality of under-funded local public universities, some African countries are using huge sums of money to allocate scholarships to students to study abroad. “For instance, nearly 40 percent of outbound Nigerian students hold scholarships, most of which are funded by oil revenues,” stated Campus France.

The report further indicated that while a large segment of student mobility in Sub-saharan Africa reflects free and parental choices, outflows are being influenced by national and global political and economic trends. In this context, pressures caused by conflict and political turmoil have played a major role in African study mobility, with countries in conflict listing regular spikes of outbound students.

Economic instability and the prevailing graduate unemployment crisis in Sub-saharan Africa have transformed the region into one of the global untapped markets for international students.

Maurice Onyiriuka, an educationist observed that countries like UK, Canada, USA and even Ghana have cash in on the neglect of the education system by the government by encouraging the influx of Nigerians students into their countries based on the economically prospect in terms of the foreign exchange it brings to their respective country.

“It is known (at least in the developed world) that education determines, not only earning capacity, but also the very quality of human life (even longevity has relationship to education) with this in mind and the seemingly glaring neglect of education by successive government, parents and student alike are force to seek their destinies in foreign lands to the detriment of Nigeria” he said.

Onyiriuka then suggested that the only way out of this quagmire is for government to support the entrenchment of adequate and quality education in all level of education in the nation especially the tertiary institutions, this he believe will nip in the bud the mass exodus of students to foreign land and save the economy of the huge foreign exchange loss.

There are about 5.3 million outbound students globally and although UNESCO states the number might increase rapidly over the next few years, the barriers that continue to exist suggest that the larger part of this group might not be from Sub-saharan Africa in the near future.

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