A recent investigation has revealed that Nigerian students seeking admission to foreign universities collectively spent a staggering $340.84 million to support their applications between January and June 2023.
This data is based on information from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), specifically on the funds utilised for educational services in foreign exchange transactions.
According to the CBN’s records, April 2023 saw $40.54 million spent on foreign education, followed by $48.81 million in May.
However, there was a significant decline in June, with only $32.61 million spent. These numbers represent a noticeable decrease when compared to the first quarter of 2023, which witnessed $218.88 million in spending, marking a decrease of $96.92 million or 44.28 percent.
Compared to the same period in the previous year, the second quarter of 2023 displayed a substantial drop of $124.42 million (50.5 percent) in expenditure on foreign education.
News About Nigeria reported that these substantial financial outflows to foreign academic institutions lacked any significant reciprocity in terms of inflows from foreign sources into the local education sector.
Education experts pointed out that the challenges in the foreign exchange supply chain have forced students to source dollars from Bureau De Change operators, primarily due to delays in banks processing Form A, which is required for foreign exchange transactions related to education.
Recent data from the Home Office of the United Kingdom highlighted a dramatic surge in the number of study visas granted to Nigerians, with a 222.8 percent increase. As of June 2022, 65,929 study visas were issued, compared to 20,427 during the same period in 2021.
One of the primary reasons for this increased demand for foreign education is the ongoing backlog of forex demand at the official market maintained by the Central Bank.
This has forced individuals and businesses to turn to the black market to acquire the needed dollars.
Dollar inflows into Nigeria have been on a declining trend in recent years, primarily due to decreasing investments and a drop in crude oil exports, which account for more than 90 percent of the country’s export income.
In response to the situation, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, criticised the government’s failure to invest adequately in the education sector.
He pointed out the dilapidated state of tertiary institutions, the lack of proper equipment for practicals, and the consequent production of half-baked graduates.
Ezeibe emphasised that investing in the sector is the key to retaining Nigerian students within the country for quality education.
Professor Alabi Thomas, a Professor of Education at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, echoed these sentiments, blaming government policies for crippling the education sector and driving students to seek better opportunities abroad.