Between January and June 2023, Nigerian students aspiring to study abroad have invested a staggering $340.84 million in funding their applications for admission to foreign universities, according to recent findings by The PUNCH. This data was sourced from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s records on the expenditure pertaining to educational services within the sectoral utilization for foreign exchange transactions.
The Central Bank’s report reveals a breakdown of spending, indicating that in April 2023, students sent a total of $40.54 million to finance their overseas education aspirations. This amount saw a slight increase in May 2023, with $48.81 million being spent. However, June 2023 marked a significant decrease as the bank reported a dip in spending to $32.61 million.
Comparing the second quarter of 2023 to the first quarter, there was a notable decrease of $96.92 million, constituting a 44.28 percent decline from the $218.88 million spent in the first three months of the year. Additionally, when compared with the second quarter of 2022, the situation appears even more grim, with a significant drop of $124.42 million or 50.5 percent in spending.
The report underscores that despite the substantial outflow of funds for foreign education, there has been a lack of significant reciprocal inflow to the local education sector from foreign sources.
Industry experts speculate that this deficiency may have compelled aspiring Nigerian students to resort to sourcing foreign currency from Bureau De Change operators, as commercial banks have faced delays in processing the requisite Form A for foreign exchange transactions.
In a related context, the most recent data from the Home Office of the United Kingdom reveals a dramatic increase in the number of study visas issued to Nigerians. The report discloses a 222.8 percent rise, with 65,929 study visas being granted as of June 2022 compared to 20,427 during the same period in 2021. This surge underscores the persistent demand for international education opportunities among Nigerian students.
The Central Bank’s backlog of accumulated forex demand on the official market has, in part, necessitated individuals and businesses to resort to the black market for acquiring dollars. This issue has further exacerbated the challenges faced by students who aspire to study abroad.
Contributing to this issue, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, highlights the dire state of education in Nigeria, attributing the migration of students to foreign shores to the government’s failure to adequately invest in the education sector. Dilapidated infrastructure, a lack of adequate equipment for practical training, and subpar teaching conditions have all contributed to a system that continues to produce graduates who are ill-prepared for the global job market.
Professor Alabi Thomas, a distinguished figure in the field of education and a faculty member at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, supports this perspective. He places blame on government policies that have consistently undermined the education sector, thus forcing Nigerian students to seek education abroad as a solution to their aspirations for quality education.
In conclusion, the increasing expenditure by Nigerian students on foreign university applications highlights not only their determination to access quality education but also the urgent need for a comprehensive overhaul of the education sector in Nigeria to retain talent and resources within the country.