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Drive to Study Abroad Remains Strong Among Nigerians

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The number of Nigerians who go abroad for business school is on the rise. The trend is visible at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and the destinations are varied and diverse.

Your dream of going abroad to study can become a reality as there are several international schools that offer quality education at an affordable rate. The way of life in these countries is simple and easy and students can also apply for business school scholarships.

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Stakeholders have said the reason why Nigerian youths prefer to study abroad was as a result of challenges in the nation’s education system and a perception of better value-for-money in foreign schools.

With its large youth demographics and expanding middle class, Nigeria has become one of the most sought-after markets for student recruiters in major destination countries including Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, the US, and the UK.

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Along with Ghana, Nigeria’s outbound student mobility greatly exceeds that of other African markets. But it is not always the easiest market to recruit from, not the least because of volatility in the country’s economy. Obviously, there is some truth in this, considering the frequency of industrial actions, paucity of funds, dilapidated state of infrastructure and the lack of manpower in the public universities. The rapid growth in the number of private universities in Nigeria, which offer a relative measure of stability, should have stemmed the tide in the number of those going overseas to study.

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Clearly indicating the presence of a broader set of drivers that are contributing to sustaining interest in foreign education. What are the major reasons for this capital flight on students and best brains as they are likely to settle abroad after graduation?

For many stakeholders, the development could be attributed to the issues in the country’s educational sector, the incessant strikes which disrupt schools’ academic calendars and lack of admission space: Every year about 1.5 million school leavers sit for compulsory entrance examinations into 150 public and private universities whose approved carrying capacity is 600,000 students.

Nigerian students are extremely coveted by the English educational system because they not only bring in billions, but the students apparently do very well, meaning very good business for the UK which sells its educational system not just in Nigeria, but across the world.

Why would you want to do a degree for six years? You do the first year and the schools go on strike, you end up spending more years. One of the reasons why many youths want to study abroad is the quality, many Nigerian trained graduates are also lacking in skills that make them more employable, such as IT skills and presentation skills and other soft skills; reason being that these are not necessarily prioritized in their curriculum.

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The Carnegie report notes that outbound student mobility from Nigeria varies “significantly year-to-year depending on macroeconomic trends, monetary policies, the ease and speed of visa application processes, and the availability of post-study residency permits.”

Whatever challenges they face, nearly 100,000 Nigerian students were enrolled abroad in 2020. Where they chose to study – and why – is a significant question for recruiters in countries that command significant share of the Nigerian market.

Despite those declining numbers, Carnegie notes that Nigeria remains a top source market for the UK, in sixth place after Malaysia, Hong Kong, the United States, India, and China.

However, it is a market from which further declines could pose a significant issue for UK educators – many rely significantly on Nigerian post-graduate enrolments – because Nigeria is predicted to be the most important sender of postgraduate students in the world soon. The British Council determined in 2015 that Nigeria’s number of outbound postgraduate students would grow the fastest in the world through 2025, followed by India (with a projected annual average growth of 7.5%), Indonesia (7.2%), Pakistan (6.4%), and Saudi Arabia (5.2%).

Why Canada is quickly becoming a favorite destination among Nigerians

Affordability is a major draw for Nigerian students and along with a welcoming policy environment, it’s a key reason Canada has now surpassed the UK in its numbers of Nigerians enrolled in Canadian universities.

Studying abroad is the right thing to do, there are lots of gaps in knowledge in Nigeria; there is need for students to go out there and come back home to invest the knowledge and transfer the skill into the economy.

Recently, Nigerian families are attracted to Canadian universities’ more affordable tuition fees as well as the country’s less-onerous visa process and clearer pathways to postgraduate work and residency. In 2020, the Canadian government sought to make the country even more competitive by introducing the Nigeria Student Express scheme, aimed at improving student visa processing times and introducing a specialized system for verifying the financial status of prospective applicants.

Nigerian applicants also see Canada as a safer environment for people of color – one that is less xenophobic than the United States and the United Kingdom and thus a more attractive destination. For these reasons, the number of Nigerian students attending Canadian institutions increased from 2,825 in 2009 to 11,985 in 2019.

This trend may well continue as more international firms are seeking investment opportunities in emerging economies such as Nigeria, as growth in the advanced economies remain slow.  This can only motivate more individuals to seek that extra edge which will give them a fighting chance for the best jobs.

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