• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigerians divided over IELTS 29% hike due to FX

Many Nigerians have reacted to the recent announcement by the British Council to increase the examination fee for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) students in the country by 29 percent, after five months.

The hike in IELTS examination is seen escalating the challenges faced by many Nigerian students in their quest to relocate abroad and/or push for studies abroad.

Speaking on the new development, Blessing Ema, an educationist expressed concerns that the increase would also affect cost of writing Cambridge O’level examinations astronomically.

Ema pointed out the devalued currency is rubbing negatively on the ambitions of many Nigerians who would want to further their studies and/or travel abroad for greener pastures.

“Like in my former school, we enrolled students for Cambridge IGCSE programme. Examinations used to be charged directly by British Council based on exchange rate.

“I’m sure due to the cost of examinations most students will not be able to enroll for the promme,” she said.

Efriye Bribena, the chief executive officer at TAMIEF International Limited said; “It is reasonable to do so if the increase is in Naira because of the exchange rate but it will be unreasonable if the increase is in British Pounds.

“The visa fees are denominated in Pounds and converted to Naira, so it is natural for it to change if the Naira is devalued.”

However, Friday Erhabor, the director of media and strategies at Marklenez Limited believes that anything that will make Nigerians to look inwards is a welcome development.

“Our penchants for foreign education, foreign medical care, and foreign made goods are part of the challenges facing our economy. Nigerians that graduate from our universities can compete with graduates from anywhere in the world,” he said.

Erhabor decried this sudden urge to send children outside the country to school common among Nigerians. In fact, he said he would like the increment to rise to 50 percent if that would Nigerians to look inwards.

In the fore of the quest by many Nigerians to travel abroad for greener pastures, many are required to write the IELTS examinations if they want to acquire a visa to any of the countries that have made it a mandatory entry requirement.

The IELTS is recognised globally as a measure of language proficiency for non-native English speakers.

Prior to the recent announcement by the council, Nigerians were asked to pay N107,500 from the between N80,000 to N90,000, and are now to pay the sum of N139,000 for the Computer Academic and General Training Modules as the foreign exchange dangles.

According to a statement on the British Council’s website, the increment was due to the rise in the costs of delivering the examinations in Nigeria.

“We would like to inform you that there has been a review of our IELTS fees. The new price list of the IELTS range of tests offered by the British Council will be effective for registrations on or after 1 February 2024.

“The new prices will be: IELTS on Computer Academic and General Training Modules: ₦139,000

“IELTS on Paper Academic and General Training Modules: ₦134,000; UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI): ₦149,000; Life Skills: ₦130,000; One Skill Retake (O.S.R): ₦87,570

“The change in price is associated with the increased costs in the delivery of our examinations. This adjustment is expected to support the continuation of a diverse range of services and comprehensive support for individuals striving to achieve their language proficiency goals,” the statement read in part.

This is coming five months after the council effected an increment. The fee for the IELTS, was N80,000 to N90,000 before it was increased to N107,500 in September 2023

IELTS is widely embraced globally by non-native English speakers and serves as evidence of their language proficiency.

It is a collaborative effort between the British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment, and IDP Education Australia for those seeking educational opportunities, employment, or visa approvals in the UK, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

Nigeria’s naira plunged to a record against the dollar following a revision of the methodology used to set the exchange rate, in effect the second devaluation of the currency in seven months.

The local unit depreciated 31 percent to N1,413 a dollar on Monday in the so-called NAFEX fixing, the official foreign exchange window, according to data published by FMDQ, which calculates the exchange rate for the West African nation.

The move came after the Central Bank of Nigeria accused traders of manipulating the exchange rate by under-reporting transaction rates.