A look at number of Nigerian students studying abroad

THE ongoing crises in Sudan have threatened Nigerian students studying in the north-eastern African country. Government officials put the number at 5,500.

The ICIR had reported that the first batch of 376 Nigerians fleeing the war-torn country arrived late Wednesday, May 3, in Abuja. However, this is not the first time Nigerian students would flee from a country due to conflict.

In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis in 2022, over 12,000 students studying at different universities in Ukraine were stranded. The ICIR reported how the Nigerian government approved $8.5 million to evacuate these students.

The first batch arrived two days after this approval was made.

Despite these challenges, thousands of Nigerian students are migrating abroad to study with leading destinations in Canada, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Australia. 

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) database, in 2016, the total outbound international mobility of Nigerian students in tertiary institutions was 96,735. But between 2017 and 2020, the number dropped significantly to 85,960, 76,330, 69,106, and 71,753 for each year.

What are the numbers saying?

Data from UNESCO says that, as of 2020, there are 71,753 Nigerian students studying abroad. But, there are projections that this figure has increased to nearly100,000 at the end of 2020.

Another report by Campus France – a public institution promoting French higher education abroad and welcoming foreign students and researchers to France –  highlighted Nigeria as the leading country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with students studying in the diaspora. The report said that nearly 40 per cent of outbound Nigerian students hold scholarships, most of which are funded by oil revenues.

Last year, the Uk’s Higher Education Statistic Agency reported that the number of Nigerian students studying in the country rose by 64 per cent. This is from 13,020 in the 2019/2020 academic session to 21,305 by the 2020/2021 session.

In 2022, the UK issued visas to 65,929 Nigerian students to study abroad. This is more than 17,973 visas issued in 2019.

Also, 14,438 Nigerians were enrolled at various institutions in the USA for the 2021/2022 academic session, while Canada has about 13,745 students in its universities.

Other countries hosting Nigerian students are Malaysia, with 13,000 students, United Arab Emirates, with 1,755 students; and Hungary, with about 970 students.

In Africa, no fewer than 5,000 Nigerians are schooling in Ghana, according to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority in 2022.

Financial expenses

A report says that there are over 50,000 scholarships available for Nigerian students wanting to study abroad yearly.

Meanwhile, data from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s balance of payment statistics showed that between 2010 and 2020, $28.65 billion was spent on foreign education. 

The CBN further revealed that between 2015 and 2022, $3.5 billion has been spent on foreign education; about $1.38 billion was spent in the year’s first nine months of 2022.

Kehinde Ogunyale tells stories by using data to hold the government into account. Shoot him a mail at kogunyale@icirnigeria.org or Twitter: Prof_KennyJames

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  1. Isn’t it just stupid that a country such as Nigeria with all its poverty and suffering will have an outflow of over $2.8 billion a year, going to educational systems in far richer countries abroad? Just plain stoooopid!


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