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Nigeria institutions attract foreign students

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By Abiodun Okunloye

709 foreign students enrolled in Nigerian institutions from 2017 to 2023.

New information released by the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja shows that despite numerous challenges, such as strikes, inadequate facilities, and below-standard learning environments, 709 foreign students were enrolled in Nigerian tertiary institutions from 2017 to 2023. The increase in Nigerian students seeking higher education internationally is driving the trend. The number of foreign students entering each academic year varied, with 127 in 2017/2018, 110 in 2018/2019, 161 in 2019/2020, 197 in 2020/2021, 78 in 2021/2022, and 36 in 2022/2023.

According to a ministry insider, the decrease in foreign student enrollment for the 2021/2022 academic year was attributed to the strike led by various university and polytechnic unions, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANN). The data show that over the specified time frame, universities accepted 616 international students, polytechnics admitted 64 and Colleges of Education enrolled 29 individuals from overseas.

University of Ibadan has hosted many international individuals in the past.

Network and Security Systems is the most dominant major, with 40 students enrolled: 35 in Computer Science, 35 in Medicine and Surgery, 25 in Business Administration, 20 in Accounting, and 20 in Pharmacy. Other popular majors include Political Science, with 18 students; Mass Communications, with 17 students; Economics, with 16 students; and International Studies, with 15 students. Additionally, there are 14 students in Computer Engineering and Physiology and 12 in civil engineering, English Education, Electronics Engineering, and History and International Studies.

There are 11 students each in Electrical Engineering and Philosophy, 10 in Health Education, 9 in French and Microbiology, 8 in Architecture, Biochemistry, Business Education, Psychology and 7 in Anatomy. Ayodamola Oluwatoyin, Director of Programmes at Reform Education Nigeria, reported that the University of Ibadan has hosted many international individuals in the past. This includes not only foreign students but also visiting professors from other countries. Similar to how Nigerians travel abroad for education, governments have the potential to draw in foreigners to their educational institutions.

Reform is necessary for the Nigerian higher education sector.

The government must invest in improving higher education institutions. Unfortunately, Nigerian universities have a poor reputation internationally. The mention of ASUU now instils fear and dread. When looking at foreign media outlets such as BBC, CNN, and Aljazeera, all you hear about Nigerian universities are negative stories like strikes and sex for grades. A complete reform is necessary for the higher education sector. Retaining its citizens is crucial for the country. By doing so, it can attract a larger number of foreigners, increasing foreign exchange earnings.

Also, the presence of international students in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions brings a wealth of cultural diversity, fostering a dynamic and inclusive learning environment. Through interactions with peers from different backgrounds, local students gain valuable cross-cultural communication skills and exposure to varied perspectives, which can broaden their worldview. This exchange of ideas and experiences enriches the academic atmosphere and promotes student tolerance, understanding, and mutual respect. Furthermore, the increased diversity in the student body enhances the reputation of Nigerian universities on the global stage, showcasing the institutions as hubs for international collaboration and academic excellence.

Related Article: Nigerian student tops enrolment in US—Report

In addition to improving the quality of education, enhancing infrastructure, and offering scholarships, the Nigerian government can also work on simplifying the visa process for international students, providing English language support services, and creating a welcoming and inclusive campus environment. Collaborating with foreign universities for exchange programs, research partnerships, and joint degree programs can attract more international students. By showcasing Nigerian institutions’ unique cultural heritage, rich history, and vibrant academic community, the government can effectively increase the global appeal of studying in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.

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