scholarships wooing students as regulations discourage TNE

Institutions from US, Canada, Europe and China are offering scholarships for online studies with the promise that the learners will relocate abroad for contact learning once the pandemic eases.

This has happened as investment in transnational education Africa’s most populous country fails to replace outbound mobility for thousands of students seeking opportunities abroad.

Despite the huge potential for the TNE in the country of 200 million people, overseas universities have not been establishing branches, campuses or learning centres said Olusola Oyewole vice chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria.

“It has been difficult for foreign universities to establish branches, campuses or learning centres in Nigeria. This is due to the strict regulatory process put in place by the National Universities Commission for such establishment,” he told The PIE News.

“Efforts made by some dubious service providers have been detected by regulatory bodies”

“Efforts made by some dubious service providers have been detected by regulatory bodies and their nefarious activities has been well publicised to discourage patronage by innocent students,” the VC  –who is the newly appointed secretary general of the Association of African Universities – added.

Nevertheless appetite for international education among Nigerian learners has not reduced according to the professor, and has only been slowed by economic constraints. A weakened local currency, the Naira, against the major currencies is as well a factor in slowing enrolment in universities overseas.

“The [mobility] trend has only reduced due to the inflated exchange rates for foreign currencies required for paying foreign tuition,” he added.

“The perceived reduction is also due to financial constraints in the country. This change is however not in favour of joint programs in partnership with local institutions, it is in favour of on-line courses for skills acquisition programs.”

At the same time, there is an emerging trend for student interest to shift from enrolling in foreign universities to foreign short-term virtual courses, such as Coursera courses, he said.

Mobility had slowed in favour of short-term distance learning and the crave for university education was reducing, he elaborated.

A 2018 study conducted by the British Council revealed that of the 143 universities in Nigeria, 31% had some form of international education partnerships.

The most common types of TNE were “articulation agreements” and distance learning, and there were no approved international branch campuses in Nigeria.

There were also many examples of research collaborations, faculty and student exchanges, it found. It conceded that Nigeria has a young and growing population, with 62.5% of the populace under the age of 24, and a high average annual growth rate of 3.5%.

Another study found that TNE in Nigeria has “huge potential” and was expected to take off as the country stabilised politically, socially and economically, said the report by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Nigeria is the fifth largest host country for UK TNE, although 95% of it is through distance learning, the The PIE News reported, finding that around 30,000 students were on UK higher education programs in 2017-18.

Nearly 85% of them were enrolled on Oxford Brookes University’s BSc in Applied Accountancy programs.

Oxford Brookes has a “unique partnership” with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants which enables students who are studying in Nigeria are able to participate in the BSC program, if they meet the required eligibility conditions.

However the university currently doesn’t offer in-country education in Nigeria, a spokesperson said last week.

“We welcome a number of students from Nigeria to study at the Oxford Brookes UK campus each year, and have around 1,000 alumni of Oxford Brookes living and working in Nigeria,” the official added.

According to Pai Obanya, emeritus professor of Education at University of Ibadan in Nigeria, TNE as a term was virtually unknown in the country, and the West African nation had no policy in statutes on governing higher education.

He noted that while students used to study in foreign universities such as Oxford and University of London through “correspondence”, the same has died since mid-1980s.

“There is a noted shift some students are seeking professional courses online offered by foreign universities”

Stringent regulation by the universities commission has also discouraged establishment of campuses and branches by foreign institutions.

“Universities from all over the world are doing advertising their programs here in Nigeria and students are still moving abroad for degree programs despite the country having 192 chartered private and public universities,” he noted.

“However, there is a noted shift some students are seeking professional courses online offered by foreign universities.”

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