Nigerians are some of the most educated people in the world. Nigerians account for a large portion of the population of international students in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Norway, and many other countries in Europe. This has made Nigeria-a country in West Africa, much maligned for its endemic corruption, popular in the developed world as a market to whom to sell education.
However, there are a lot of issues that have been raised about the population of Nigerian students studying abroad, the drop in demand in foreign education, the shift in destination of choice, and the causes and effects of such high demand in foreign education among Nigerians.
In this article, I discuss the statistics of Nigerians studying abroad, and the economic fallout it creates. This will present useful insights on the determinants of destinations for foreign education for Nigerians.
Statistics of Nigerians studying Abroad And Destinations
According to a 2021 report by Campus France’s Chiffres Cles, about 76,338 young Nigerian students went abroad to study in 2018. That figure represents an 11% drop in the number of young Nigerians who went overseas to look for quality education. That drop in demand has been traced to the drop in oil prices which has severely hit the Nigerian economy; causing government spending to be cut, and thus affecting the service economy. Furthermore, Nigeria has witnessed the depreciation of its local currency which has resulted in a general decline of spending power among Nigerians, but most notably among the Nigerian middle class.
The 2020 edition of the report quoted above suggests that this rapid economic decline has caused many Nigerians to seek education within their country, or at least to consider their study destinations more carefully- choosing more economically friendly countries, even if that means having to compromise the overall quality of the education and the social experience.
Statistics Of Nigerians Studying In UK
Between 2012 and 2017, there was a 27% drop in the number of Nigerian students who went to the United Kingdom for their education. Where have they gone? Many of the Nigerians have instead chosen other nearby countries like the Benin Republic and Ghana, which have better, and well-managed educational systems.
Other Locations in Europe
Many Nigerians have also started taking advantage of the opportunities offered by countries in order countries of Europe such as the Czech Republic, Lithuania, or Poland. This has been a purely economic decision; it is possible to find opportunities for education with minimal financial impact.
Statistics Of Nigerians Studying in America and Asia
Many Nigerians have also turned to Canada as the next best location to study abroad, and they are obviously going there because they are attracted by the strong and steady economy, which offers great opportunities to find work opportunities while studying, and after the duration of their studies. Many Nigerians who go to study in Canada prefer to study courses that put them in the oil industry, or in the construction industry, or in Canada’s booming tech industry.
Malaysia has also become a recent location of choice for Nigerian students going abroad to study. Malaysia has a highly competitive educational system that prioritizes practical learning. The country also has a great society, and the weather is also quite agreeable. Interestingly, there were several Malaysians who went to Nigeria to study in the 1980s; among the courses, they went to study was agriculture, which at that time was very good in Nigeria.
South Africa saw a rise of about 7% in the number of Nigerians who went to that country to study. We expect recent figures to reflect the political climate which seems to be increasing unfriendly to outsiders. However, if the South African society can manage to stabilize itself, the figures may continue to rise because South Africa has had a good educational and political history with Nigeria; there has been a lot of cultural exchange between both countries as students have gone to South Africa to study, and vice versa for decades. Academics have also gone from Nigeria to teach in South African institutions and vice versa for a long time.
China has welcomed more students from Nigeria within the last 2 years. China is challenging as a major hub for international students, and Nigerians are some of the main targets. Already, there are a lot of scholarships being available for Nigerian students to study at Chinese Universities. Many Nigerians flock to Chinese Universities to study Economics, Engineering, Business Administration, and so many other courses.
America has traditionally been a favoured destination for Nigerian students: many who now hold elective office in Nigeria studied in America during the ’70s and ’80s. Seemed to be a decline in the number of Nigerians heading to the United States of America to study- this may have been caused by the rapid depreciation of the Nigerian currency, causing the costs of education in America to go beyond what most Nigerians can afford. However, there has been a recent increase in student applications to those traditionally black colleges in America, however, much of this has been stimulated by more scholarship opportunities.
Why do so many Nigerians Study Abroad?
There are so many factors that occasion the high demand for foreign education among Nigerians, and we will try to highlight some of them here. Firstly, there is a general lack of faith in the educational system in Nigeria. This is because many students who have graduated from Nigerian institutions have found it difficult to perform well in intellectually demanding jobs. The modules with which they are taught are outdated, and the school environment is just not competitive.
There is also the challenge of incessant strikes which has bedeviled the Nigerian academic space, owing to the government not prioritizing education, and heeding to the demands of lecturers. There is also the problem of corruption.