Why Nigerian universities don’t attract foreign students

why nigerian universities don't attract foreign students
why nigerian universities don’t attract foreign students

In the early 1960s, Nigeria was known for its high-quality higher education, which attracted students and professors from all over the world. Numerous students, particularly from Africa, travelled to Nigeria in search of an education.

Attend those days, it was usual to see Nigerians of all classes and foreigners from India, Ghana, and other African countries in Nigerian colleges, demonstrating that knowledge is universal and that people travel the globe to teach and study.

However, this is no longer the case, since Nigeria is now the nation with the most educated migrants. Many Nigerians, especially the affluent, prefer to seek further education abroad because they believe the quality of our public universities is inadequate.

Despite continuing concerns about the quality of graduates produced in the country, which can be attributed to, among other things, poor infrastructure, persistent strikes, insecurity, and a poor learning environment, many parents prefer that their children study in other countries, despite their inability to determine the quality of the universities to which they send their children.

Many parents who are unable to send their children overseas enrol them in private institutions within the country, with the majority of them paying almost as much as it would cost to study abroad.

Dr. MacJohn Nwaobiala, a retired permanent secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education, recalled his days at the University of Ife, stating that there were a large number of international students, some of whom were on scholarship, and that socialising with them was also extremely healthy.

“Not only did you learn about African and non-African nations in the classroom, but also in social settings. These experiences broadened our perceptions as young guys. These factors helped shape our ideologies and worldviews, as well as some of our decisions, he explained.

“According to the school’s structure at the time, around 90% of students lived on campus. If I see my classmates or some of my students today, I will recognise them because we have met so frequently.”

“When I attended the University of Bradford several years later, I encountered one of my social science professors. She had somehow learned that I was coming to do a programme, and when I arrived, they had prepared a reception. “It was that good,” he stated.

Then, according to Nwaobiala, kids were encouraged and given the opportunity to flourish. These circumstances have altered. Currently, there are several obstacles in our educational system. Consider the strikes, the erosion of our institutions, and the environmental and security concerns that are overblown. These factors have contributed to and prevented people from visiting here.”

He stated that in the past, young men who had completed their education came to this region of the world to teach and study while doing so.

“However, how do you ask a lecturer or professor from a respectable institution outside of Nigeria to come to Nigeria and endure frustration? He queried.

“Schools have been closed. In addition, the take-home income of our faculty members is nothing to write home about. This is one of the things I always suggest must be reviewed: the salaries, bonuses, and welfare packages of our professors.

He continued, “Observe how Nigerians travel to Ghana and other nations. These things leak out, and they tell you, ‘You want to attend school in Nigeria? No, avoid going there. A four-year programme that you will complete in seven.

“There are many diversions; many of our professors have been away from school for some time. Obviously, they must subsist, so they seek out consulting or contract jobs.

“Frankly, I believe it has come to a point where, assuming everything were normal, students should also have the option to evaluate professors. Perhaps these points might cause the instructors to take notice.

The retired permanent secretary also criticised the terminology for classifying lectures and purchasing handouts, stating, “We need to investigate these matters. While academics are also advocating for school development, they should also look inward to determine how they may contribute to the education sector’s progress.

Even if he has no objections to the Nigerian curriculum, entrepreneurship and technical education must be integrated into the system. “By infuse, I mean make it a priority.”

These, he stated, are the obstacles, arguing that many international students will not want to travel to Nigeria given the knowledge and stories they hear about the nation.

“The truth is that our young people are leaving the country in droves due to the amenities overseas and the structure of the institutions.

“When you’re in school, you’re in school, and you receive a true education, and you realise that once they graduate, they’re intelligent enough to work for those governments. This is the brain drain that Nigeria is experiencing.”

According to educationist Michael Sule, Nigeria has now lost its reputation for delivering great education in its public colleges, which is why so many of its inhabitants have migrated abroad.

He remarked, “You can’t expect to invite strangers into your home after leaving it. Moreover, no student would want to endure what Nigerian students in public institutions are enduring owing to strikes, the terrible economy, and insecurity.”

He emphasises that the government must be deliberate in its management of public schools and address all obstacles to bring them up to international standards.

A prominent university official who wished to remain anonymous stated, “We used to draw students from other African countries in the past, but that is getting increasingly difficult now. As previously stated, the structure of our economy, the instability in the system, and, to make matters worse, the current security situation have an impact on what we do.

While criticising the state of the nation’s economy, he stated that as the naira began to decline, it became difficult for the government to attract foreigners, and it is also not profitable for foreigners to remain.

“Our educational sector became entirely localised over time. Today, it is uncommon to find more than one or two foreign lecturers or staff members at an institution. And students from other African nations, who used to come, now find it impossible to do so due to the instability in our educational system and a number of other challenges,” he stated.

He added, “There is no economic incentive for individuals to come.” The pay of a professor in Nigeria is approximately N400,000, which is less than $1,000. Now, please explain why someone would leave the United States or another African nation to teach in Nigeria for $700 to $800 per month.

He stated that in addition to the low pay, there is also substandard equipment. Therefore, it is tough for people to survive in the system. Therefore, it is understandable why people would want to travel to Dubai, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and other such locations.

To address these issues surrounding our higher education institutions, he stated, “First, we must address the economic situation; secondly, the policies being implemented to streamline the university to civil service structure are making things so difficult; and thirdly, universities lack the autonomy necessary to function as internal and global institutions. They are extremely regionalized.”

Nonetheless, he argued that education should be diverse. “There must be diversity in the system. Some of the measures, such as the IPPIS and others, are also ineffective. They make life tough for people on the inside, not to mention those on the outside. Universities, polytechnics, and institutions of education are rendered undesirable in the end.