WHY DO MOST NIGERIAN STUDENTS WANT TO STUDY ABROAD?
Nigeria as a nation values education and the e system in Nigeria has seen tremendous growth and development over the years. This is evident in the ever-increasing number of graduates and professionals in the country.
In one of its April 1, 2014 post, Premium Times reported that no fewer than 1.8 million Nigerian graduates are released into the labour market yearly. If you do your mathematics, you’ll find out that in the past two decades, our country has produced not less than some 36 million graduates!
A very impressive figure if you ask me. OK, let’s briefly dive into the history of education in Nigeria.
Now, it is generally believed that education in Nigeria started when European missionaries came. While this is true, it is not so entirely.
Education had been ongoing even before the Europeans brought in western education into the African west coast. Before the introduction of western education, children used to be taught by parents/adults about craft and skills, social habits, survival skills and culture.
A lot of our fore fathers were taught by their parents about culture, social responsibilities, and others.
When the missionaries from the western world came, they began to impart ‘formal’ education. They actually built their own form of education on the already established social and cultural backgrounds.
HOW INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION STARTED
When Great Britain, our colonial masters started to invade Nigeria, informal education was still predominant in the country.
Mostly European missionaries took it upon themselves to provide us western education. As at then, Tertiary institutions were yet to be established. Most Nigerians were sent to Britain to further their studies.
It must be noted that Great Britain, Nigeria’s colonial masters, did not contribute anything to Western education in Nigeria. Rather, it was the missionaries and churches that introduced western education to Nigeria.
Many Nigerian graduates then were allowed to study at universities in Great Britain on scholarships and grants. Many of them were given by this opportunity of free education by the British Government.
The 1840s saw the advent of Western international education in Nigeria mostly due to the western missionaries trooping into the country.
A lot of Nigerians had the opportunity to study abroad, especially in England and they made very good use of it. Many of them came back as professionals in different fields.
Education at that time in Nigeria was extremely conservative and thus, only the high society members were given the privilege to study.
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION TODAY
Nigeria is the number one country of origin for international students from Africa.
It sends the most students overseas of any country on the African continent.
This outbound mobility numbers are growing at a rapid pace. According to data from UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS); the number of Nigerian students abroad increased by 164 percent in the decade between 2005 and 2015 alone.
The United Kingdom continues to be the number one destination for most Nigerian students. This is mainly due to our colonial ties and a common language. About 17,973 Nigerian students studied in the United Kingdom in 2015.
In line with a general shift in African students’ mobility, Nigerian students have in recent years been studying in countries like Ghana. This country has recently overtaken the US as the second most popular destination country. It attracts up to 13,919 Nigerian students in 2015 according to the data provided by UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS)
Despite this, the USA remains a highly popular study destination.
Nigerian students’ enrollment in the US institutions have been steadily increasing slowly over the past fifteen years. They are currently the 14th largest group among foreign students in the United States.
Another country that has more recently emerged as a popular destination for Nigerian students especially among those from the Muslim North is Malaysia. Aside from the appeal of Malaysia as a majority Islamic nation, its low tuition fees and living costs are attractive.
Year by year, Nigerian students have continued to migrate into countries that offer them more opportunities for better degrees and a higher quality of life.
POSSIBLE REASONS FOR TRENDS IN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
The high flow of Nigerian students to foreign countries for studies has been attributed to so many reasons. Majorly due to the poor quality of education in the country. Nigeria’s tertiary institutions are very much underfunded.
Also corruption in the Nigerian education system is largely responsible for slowing down the growth of the institution.
So what factors are responsible for this increasing shift towards international education? Let’s take a quick look at some of these factors
1. Quality of education.
The decline in the development of tertiary institutions in Nigeria has forced many Nigerian students to consider pursuing their degrees abroad.
Most Nigerian tertiary institutions lack the capacity to compete favourably with foreign institutions in terms of standard and quality. Research is also largely underfunded.
2. Need for exposure
Having an international education definitely has immense benefits in terms of being gainfully exposed to other cultures and other styles of teaching.
International students are generally more exposed than their counterparts. In this case, they are exposed to quality training and research techniques. They get to appreciate other cultures and also have a better understanding of how things work globally
3. Incessant strikes
Nigerian universities are almost always constantly ravaged by incessant strikes. And usually, the students get to feel the pinch more, as most of their academic work are put on hold.
The consequence of this is that the stipulated time for the completion of their degrees is automatically prolonged. Hence, unnecessary delays are encountered.
4. Better job opportunities
Another reason why students who have the means to study abroad opt for it is that the chances of securing a good job after completion is higher than if they studied in Nigeria.
The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is relatively higher than in most developed nations, and as such, students will take their chances studying abroad
5. The leverage of a foreign degree
So many employers in Nigeria tend to prefer graduates with foreign degrees.
They believe that these graduates have been exposed to a higher quality of training abroad.This has caused a shift towards international education by Nigerian students.
It is now generally believe that having a foreign degree gives you an edge over other candidates in the job market.
Generally, students who study abroad are exposed to superior teaching methods and all these in a conducive learning environment.