• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Nigerian students shun UK universities, cross to USA, Canada


The tide of Nigerian students desiring to attend university in the United Kingdom (UK) fell by 65 percent between 2014 and 2015.

This is according to StudySearch- a university application platform providing services for international students predominantly from Africa. StudySearch attributes the slow down to unfavourable policies and  rising cost of tertiary education in the UK.

However, during the period under review, enquiries to the US and Canada on the platform rose by 30 percent and interest in other destinations, such as China is increasing.

Federick Obasi, CEO of StudySearch,  attributed the ebbing tide of interest in the UK  programme to unfavourable (UK) government policy and economic factors,  adding, “the UK is probably one of the most expensive places to study in the world.

“The overwhelming evidence that we received led us to conclude that changes to immigration rules in this country have played a direct part in putting overseas students off from choosing the UK.

“The rules are seen as too complex and subject to endless changes, the visa costs are not competitive, and the rules relating to work after study are so limiting that prospective students are heading to the US, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.

“We are calling on the government to overhaul its immigration policies” explained, Lord Krebs, chair (UK) Houseof Lords Committee on Science and Technology.

Lord  Krebs affirmed this in April 2014 in response to  an“unprecedented”10 percent fall in the number of international science, technology and maths students (STEM).

However, the Home Office did not corroborate this claim.

Of the 30, 000 enquiries StudySearch received from students around the world,79 percent came from Nigeria.

Enquiries from predominantly Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa accounted for a further 8 percent from other African countries.

The number of enquiries from Nigerian students interested in studying in the UK was 15,992 in  2014. This number however dropped to 5,610 for the same period the subsequent year, representing  a 35percent decline.

This drop in StudySearch enquiries closely reflects the drop in Nigerian students studying in  the UK ,published by Higher Education Statistics Agency(HESA).

Between 2013/14 and 2014/15,  first year Nigerian students’enrolment fell by 8 percent; along with a 1 percent drop in the number of total enrolments in higher education providers, in the same period.

Simultaneously, enquiries on StudySearch for the US and Canada combined, rose from 7,144 in 2014 to 9,787 last year.

Open DoorsData highlights an increase of almost 20 percent in the number of Nigerian students studying in the US between 2013/14 and2014/15, bringing the total number to 9,494.

In addition, data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE)show that the number of Nigerian students in Canada increased by 25 percent from 2013, hitting 8, 620.

Obasi also pointed to a rise in interest for other destinations including Malaysia, China, Dubai, Turkey, and Cyprus.

The growing presence of China in Nigeria, particularly, in construction has opened up “people’sminds to China as a destination to study,”he asserted.

“There are about 1.7million students in Nigeria who apply to go to university and there are only 500,000 spaces and so the demand is just far greater than the supply,”Obasi said.

Besides, there is a growing middle class and a swell in the number of people who can afford to send their children abroad for studies. Hence, the tide of Nigerian students going overseas for studies will continue to rise.

This continues to occur,despite President Buhari’s announcement of plans to make tertiary education in the fields of science and technology free in his budget speech, and fears that currency devaluation; foreign exchange rates may impact purchasing power.   

Stephen Onyekwelu