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Why Nigerians Prefer to Study in Foreign Universities


Why Nigerians prefer foreign universities to Nigerian institutions
According to international, international student market in the United Kingdom is worth more than 17billion dollars and Nigeria is the third largest country after China and India that’s sending a large number of its students to the UK for studies.

Some Nigerian students at University of Birmingham. Credit:
Some Nigerian students at University of Birmingham.

More so, a large number of Nigerian students are studying mainly in the US and UK. Currently in the UK there are more than 18000 Nigerian students while in the US there are about 8,000 Nigerian students.

This is a clear indication that our educational sector needs an overhaul.

Top ten countries that Nigerian students go for studies (graduate and post-graduates) are Russia, Finland, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia, Ghana, United States of America, and the United Kingdom.

University of East London. Credit:UEL

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the reigning Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in 2014 said in a lecture that there were around 71,000 Nigerian students in Ghana’s tertiary institutions and they spent about US$1 billion on tuition and upkeep.

 “The tuition paid by Nigerian students studying in Ghana with a better organised education system is more than the annual budget of all federal universities in the country,” University World News quoted the emir as saying.

Infobase in a bid to give you first hand information from a cross section of Nigerians who have studied abroad say they have reasons for choosing foreign universities for their studies.

Dr Okodua Obehi, Mr. Ajayi Festus, and Mr. John-Paul Babawale unanimously say foreign universities are more organized, result-oriented and more practical than Nigerian universities.

Below are their responses.

Dr. Okodua Obehi

When asked why Dr. Okodua Obehi opted for a foreign university, “I decided to further my studies abroad because I could not get the course of my choice here in Nigeria.

I can only speak regarding my profession

And it’s the same material being taught everywhere

At my level, I would say there is a more conducive environment for study but at the higher level there is better organization and provision for research, a chance to be the best at what we do and that is not given here.

On why Nigerians stay back after their studies, “People stay back most times because of better earnings and better research facilities. Everybody wants an environment where everything is functional.”

Mr. Ajayi Festus

Mr. Ajayi Festus having bagged a first degree from the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria, took an academic journey of University of East London, where he obtained an Msc in International Business Management speaks,

Why did you decide to further your studies abroad and not here in Nigeria?

ANS: I guess same reason why every futuristic person travels abroad. I traveled to improve myself in all areas.

The world today is interconnected like never before and to be a global employee/resource person, there is the need to be up to date with ones’ counterparts everywhere in the world.

So, in a nutshell, I traveled abroad to be a global resource person.

Docklands-Campus-University-of-East-London-infobase. Credit: UEL
Docklands Campus,University of East London.
Credit: UEL

What are the major differences between Nigerian educational system and those outside the country?

ANS: It’s a lot really. It’s more practical, recent and insightful. You get proper support, more like people really want you to succeed.

It’s technology driven and there is no room for plagiarism. At the end of the day, you can truly take credit and be satisfied with your efforts even if it’s below your expectation.

Who is to blame for migration or somewhat brain drain because some stay back after their studies?

ANS: I will answer it this way: Who has the responsibility to make the Nigerian environment more conducive for its citizens? The Government.

I know everyone has got a role to play but if you don’t lead by example, people won’t listen to insincere leadership.

What is the way forward?

ANS: I seriously don’t know how to answer this question and I’m being honest here. One thing I’ll say is this, the decision to make Nigeria (and by extension the education system) better does not lie with that Nigerian who barely lives on $1 per day but the elite ruling class.

The day they see the Nigerian project as truly for all and not for a few plutocrats who only care about plundering the nation’s resources, we can start talking about the way forward. As it stands, every road leads back to the start point in the circle.

Students hostel, UEL
One of the students’ hostels, University of East London

If you are able to make recommendation to a student, which would it be: Nigerian University or Foreign University?

ANS: It’s a no-brainer, Foreign University especially if the institution is research oriented.

How can Nigerian University education standard meet up with the foreign ones?

ANS: I think it will require the efforts of everyone involved in some capacity with decision making as regards our education sector.

While I strongly believe there is the need to vote more resources into education in the annual budget, I also think we are not doing so well managing the little resources we have at the moment.

There is the need to brace to the fact that Government property is ours also and where we are able to maintain them, attention can be shifted to other areas in subsequent budgeting.

Importantly, I think we are sometimes running antiquated curriculum. I do not see any practical change in our education curriculum over the years other than the regular name changing.lecture-room-uel

Why is it that Nigerian employers appreciate foreign certificates than Nigerian certificate?

ANS: I wouldn’t say I know all the reasons but for an objective employer, guess it would have to be because they understand the rot in the Nigerian education system.

 Mr. John-Paul Babawale

And finally, Mr. John-Paul Babawale who his B.S in Politics and International relations from the International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan (2008-2012), and M.A International Political Economy from Leeds Beckett University, England (2014-2015) believes Nigerian dream if all hands are deck.

Why did you opt for a foreign institution?

Rigorous admission procedures and process made me go abroad. I got my first degree 10years after I left secondary school.

The availability of learning facilities, conducive environment, and competent tutors are some of the qualities foreign universities have over Nigerian.

In addition, once you are get into schools abroad, your graduation date is known, no strike, no delay.

Students hostel, International Islamic University Islamabad. Credit:university website
Students hostel, International Islamic University Islamabad.
Credit:university website

Apart from studies, most Nigerians also love to stay back after their studies, why?

The educational sector in Nigeria is bad and people tend to stay back because their chances of getting a good and well paid job. Chances are slim that you get a good upon return to Nigeria.

If you are able to make recommendation to a student, which would it be: Nigerian University or Foreign University?

Sincerely I will recommend abroad for anybody to further his or studies because of the aforementioned qualities foreign universities have over Nigerian institutions.

What’s the way forward for Nigerian University to meet up with their foreign counterparts?

It’s very simple. Government needs to go back to the drawing board, good back to the grassroot. We have the resources. Our universities need to be restructured in terms of technology ( standard e-library)

Get our teaching training colleges back to life so we can have proper tutors in schools.

That’s one of the reasons why foreign certificate is a treasure now. The exposure too is another thing an employer considers.

The way forward

Our respondents believe that Nigeria has long way to go in competing favourably with foreign universities, but they’re optimistic that it could be done.

It is no more secret that some of kids of Nigeria’s President Buhari are either through with their studies abroad, or are still undergoing studies in foreign institution.

One of them is Zahra Buhari, a microbiology student at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.

The president may be able to afford the tuition fees, what about the kids of the other Nigerian kids who are finding it hard to make ends meet?

Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, once said he paid about N1.4 billion within four months on Rivers students studying at foreign universities on government scholarships.

“In 2010, Nigerian students spent to the tune of N246 billion on UK education sector. Just as Nigerian students in 2012, spent over N1.5 trillion on students studying abroad,” the Exam Ethics International, a non-governmental organisation said.

Come to think of it if half of N246 billion is invested by the government to build standard in Nigerian universities, education sector may become one of the stable sectors that’d be fetching the government huge revenue yearly.

Nigerian government needs to do more to improve her education sector from the elementary to the university level so that it’ll be attractive and encouraging to students across the world.

It could be done!


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Anthony Amenaghawon


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