Nigeria: spending on int’l studies fell in 2022

Published 27/02/2023

Nigerians spent a massive US$1.38 billion on international education funding students to acquire degrees and diplomas in universities and colleges abroad in the first nine months of 2022.

The amount was however lower by more than half a million US dollars compared to the amount spent over the same period in 2021, when the country paid $1.88bn for international education, according to the country’s financial analysis website Nairametrics.

Quoting Central Bank of Nigeria figures, it reported that despite “negatively” impacting the country’s balance of payments and despite being likely the largest expenditure on foreign education in Africa, the total in 2022 represents the country’s lowest spending on study abroad by Nigerians since 2016.

The scenario is worsened by the fact that the country in return did not receive any significant “form of cash inflow from foreign students”, the trends website laments, noting that the data was in tandem with the high mobility of Nigerians moving to foreign countries using “the education route”, it noted.

This one-sided trend is also a result of the fact that “education has become the easiest way for Nigerians to get a visa into European countries, especially the United Kingdom”, where Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation sends its biggest share of students.

In the 2021/22 academic year, some 44,195 Nigerian students were enrolled at UK universities, HESA statistics show.

“Nigerians who want to relocate abroad now apply for admission to foreign universities”

“Nigerians who want to relocate abroad now apply for admission to foreign universities, and upon admission apply for study visas, which allow them to work and school in the host country during the course of their studies,” Nairametrics added.

The data comes at a time when the country’s importance as a source market continues to grow, for example sending 21,660 to Canadian universities in 2022, the fifth highest in the list of nationalities issued with the most Canadian study permits. This represented a growth of 17.8% when compared to the previous year.

The figures also seem to agree with previous ones by the CBN which indicate that that Nigerians spent about $221 million on foreign education between December 2021 and February 2022.

The CBN analysis further showed that in December 2021 alone, a whopping $90.67m was spent on foreign education while in January 2022, a total of $60.2m went to the same, an amount that rose to nearly $70m in February of the same year.

Nigeria is the biggest source market for international students in Africa, with thousands studying in North America, Europe, Asia and South Africa.

A total of 71,133 of them were enrolled in universities abroad in 2022 according to the US Department of Commerce. Some 14,438 joined classes in the US, according to 2022 Open Doors data.

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