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Nigeria’s HEI deficit discussed at UK conference

The issue of Nigerian students not having enough spaces at universities in their own country, as well as how UK boarding schools can establish, nurture and maintain relationships with families and schools in Nigeria was discussed at the “New Year…New Partnerships in Nigeria” conference held in London recently.

Delegates at the “New Year…New Partnerships in Nigeria” conference. Photo: The PIE News

The UK is one of the top destinations for Nigerian students because of the cultural ties between the two countries

Delegates heard that as many as 900,000 students were unable to get places in Nigeria’s 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education-resulting in young people leaving the country in order to study.

“Something to remember is that youth unemployment is at 37%”

In his opening remarks, event organiser Mark Brooks explained how Nigeria is one of the African continent’s top growth markets. 

“UNESCO estimates that 90,000 Nigerians study abroad today,” he said.  “Nigeria has a population of more than 200 million and 20% of the population are aged between 15 and 24.

“Something to remember is that youth unemployment is at 37% and one of the motivations of getting a fantastic education at British boarding schools or British run education in Nigeria is to provide students with opportunities and avoid problems with unemployment,” he added. 

The sheer size of Nigeria’s population has interesting consequences for the country’s education market, delegates heard. 

“The average family has four to five children and we expect the population to grow to around 400 million [by 2050],” explained Lami Adekola, deputy country director,  for the UK’s Department for International Trade, Nigeria.

“That shows massive potential in terms of the share numbers of students that we generate every year.”

Adekola also spoke about Nigeria’s infrastructure and education assets. 

“We have 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education, which is grossly below what is required for the population we have. 

“About 900,000 students could not get an education in Nigeria in 2018 and it shows the volume and numbers we are talking about,” Adekola continued.

“Most of these students sought alternative destinations to basically get into schools. And a lot of parents are even beginning to look for measures before university level; they send their children out of the country to schools at the secondary level, so it is easier for them to transition to universities.” 

Adekola identified the UK as one of the top destinations for Nigerian students because of the cultural ties between the two countries.

But according to Yemisi Akindele, founder of High Achiever’s Academy, cultural sensitivities still have the potential to cause issues for Nigerian students coming to the UK.

She spoke about the Nigerian approach to parenting and how some parents may be more nervous about letting their children visit other households during boarding school exeats.

She also told delegates that British schools had to make sure the dietary requirements in relation to the religious views of students are respected.

Top destinations for Nigerian students include the US with around 16,000 students as of March 2019; Malaysia, with roughly 13,000 in 2019; Canada, with 11,290 in 2018 according to IRCC data and the UK with 10,540 in 2017/18.

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