Holistic Picture [ International Education]
Salisu Suleiman is one of the favorite blog's I read, he is always insightful and his analysis spot on, recently he wrote about the challenges of university entry for the burgeoning number of young Nigerian high school leavers struggling for University entry places each year.
As a practitioner in the Higher Education development and marketing sector, I would like to take him on some issues he raised especially the much debated downsides of Nigerians studying overseas.
Its important that I state first that I do agree that the majority of Nigerians should study in-country and this is still the situation at the moment. If the government can create further higher education study routes and opportunities such as the community colleges model that Salisu Suleiman proposes in his blog post,I believe that would be an excellent steps in the right direction- read Salisu article here
Salisu made some excellent points, however I would like to add that not everything about Nigerians studying overseas is a bad thing or boils down to the much talked about capital flight. It will interest you to know that a portion of the money being paid as fees by Nigerians finds its way back into the Nigeria economy largely via the sector of educational agents/colleges recruiting these international students. One positive about this is that, this sector keeps a growing number of people in jobs via their provision of needed advisory and support services to these students.
The national university commission NUC efforts at establishing cross border higher educational partnership as a means of driving Nigerian Universities to collaborate with overseas University in the especially in the West to further build capacity for both teaching and research, I trust that one of the key attraction that would be encourage these Western Universities to collaborate with Nigerian institutions is the close contact and history they have had with Nigerians students or researchers on their campus. According to (IREX 2014) “International education plays a vital role in the informal diplomacy of nations. It establishes people-to-people relationships among students, academics, and professionals across boarders”.
China,India and some middle eastern countries send far more numbers of international students to study in the West and however I don't think they get fixated on "capital flight" but rather how best to manage the process of students studying overseas and the benefits derivable thereof.
A major difference I have noticed is that while most Indians,Chinese, Arabs etc would want to return to their homeland after their studies to add value to their home country and economy, some Nigerian youths schooled or schooling abroad would rather want to take the opportunity to emigrate if the country where they studied offered them that route.
In cases where the country has immigration high on its agenda and is trying to cut back on net migration e.g the UK, some Nigerian students find ways to keep studying just remain in the UK,simply because they don't want to come back home to no jobs or the extreme hardship the unemployed faces in Nigeria.
I do have a friend,he made a distinction grade at his OND studies at Auchi Polytechnic,progressed to the University of Benin and graduated with a 2.1 in Mechanical Engineering and then after many years of job hunting ended up studying for a master degree in the UK via Government sponsorship.
An absolute brilliant fellow, but since 2008 he has refused to return to Nigeria, before you are quick to judge him, the question here would be if it was you in his shoes what would you do ?, its rather unthinkable that Government at many levels in Nigeria would spends millions of pounds on training Nigerian overseas and then these young man and women lack opportunities or jobs to be gainfully engaged on return to their homeland - I believe it should be holistic , if the government conceive the idea to train young Nigeria overseas it must also deliberately create opportunities to engage these particular set of Nigerians on their successful completion of their course and return home.
The good sides of Nigerians studying overseas is endless if we look at it holistically and not one-sided. The effective higher-education structure which some international higher education providers offer would allows for higher economic development and prepares leaders in all professional sectors - it only adds up that we stand to gain in the long run if the Government put to better use its international trained graduates
In a 21st century of extremely competitiveness and globalization. Nigerian international graduates acquire exposure skills and the opportunity to develop a global network of colleagues that would allow us as a nation compete better globally.
General statistics say you have about 50,000 Nigerians studying in destinations like the UK,USA,CANADA,etc however a colossal 89% or more are all self funded students, meaning the Government did not spend its money to train these Nigerians overseas, so by all means the government at federal,state and local council level must now harness this vast skill base alongside our locally educated graduates to keep the Nigerian project working and surviving for good rather than focus only on the money spent when a Nigerian who can afford to seek quality education overseas decided to take that route. .
2015 is an election year, the present government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan tried hard to make some improvement but a whole lot more still needs to be done. Since he is most likely to seek re election. My call to his administration and the ones after him is to specially focus on:
Creating real and sustainable jobs
Create opportunities for young Nigerians to thrive in the formal and informal sectors (entertainment/entrepreneur/startups)
At all cost fix the electric power sector
If the government tag this as part of its agenda not to be handled in the "business as usual" fashion , I strongly believe in another five years we can watch Nigeria take flight to greatness beyond our imagination.