Nigerian Students Seek Knowledge Abroad: Nearly 100,000 Pursue UK Education in 5 Years

Daud Olatunji

In a significant trend that underscores Nigeria’s pursuit of higher education, Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has revealed that close to 100,000 Nigerian students embarked on academic journeys to the United Kingdom between 2017 and 2022.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 2023 University of Lagos International Week, the minister highlighted the eagerness of Nigerian scholars to expand their horizons globally.

Tunji-Ojo noted that over 100 Nigerian students received scholarships for postgraduate and PhD degrees each year, emphasizing the commitment to supporting their academic aspirations.

He acknowledged the profound impact these students have by representing Nigeria abroad, fostering unity, innovation, and shared prosperity.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) report confirmed that approximately 99,985 Nigerian students chose to pursue their higher education in the United Kingdom during this period.

While some may suggest that these students left their homeland primarily for other reasons, the minister highlighted that many embarked on this journey with the genuine intent to seek knowledge for self-improvement.

Addressing challenges in passport acquisition, Tunji-Ojo announced the Ministry’s plans to streamline the passport application process.

He added that  by January of the following year, Nigerians can complete their passport applications online, with deliveries to homes and offices starting in February.

Additionally, improvements in the visa application process will make international travel more seamless.

He said to further support this global perspective, the Ministry plans to open 12 new visa application centers worldwide and enhance the visa-on-arrival policy through collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This move is aimed at promoting the principle of reciprocity.

Highlighting the interconnectedness of the world, the minister stressed the importance of partnerships that transcend borders in addressing global challenges such as climate change, health, security, and economic prosperity.

The minister expressed his belief in the transformative power of education and research, calling on the academic community to inspire the next generation to build a Nigeria thriving on unity and innovation. 

He emphasized the role of academic recommendations in reshaping policies and practices and encouraged engagement with policymakers, industry leaders, and civil society for evidence-based decision-making.

The keynote speaker at the event, Vice Chancellor of the University of Dundee, Prof. Iain Gillespie, emphasized the need for institutions, industries, and policymakers worldwide to collaborate in addressing common challenges.

He noted that universities should serve as centers of excellence in knowledge, character, and service to humanity, striving to transform lives locally and globally.

The Vice Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, underscored the impact of globalization on higher education, calling for adaptation to internationalization imperatives.

She highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic’s role in accelerating the adoption of technology to break down traditional barriers in education.

Executive Secretary of TETFund, Mr. Sonny Echono, shared the organization’s commitment to promoting internationalization through scholarships, having offered over 40,000 scholarships for Masters and PhD programs abroad.

Echono emphasized the importance of attracting foreign students to Nigerian universities through curriculum improvements and stable academic calendars.

The event brought together experts from various fields to focus on issues of linkage, partnership, collaboration, capacity building, international grants, multidisciplinary research, and joint solutions to global challenges.

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