In a recent report, it was revealed that Nigerian students aspiring for foreign university admissions expended a combined total of $340.84 million for their application fees in the first half of 2023, spanning from January to June. The data, sourced from the Central Bank of Nigeria, highlights the allocation of this expenditure toward educational services within the foreign exchange transaction sector.
Specifically, the data from the apex bank highlights a spending of $40.54 million in foreign education in April 2023, followed by $48.81 million in May 2023, and a notable decrease to $32.61 million in June 2023. This marks a significant decline from the $218.88 million spent in the first quarter of 2023, reflecting a decrease of $96.92 million or 44.28 percent. Similarly, compared to the second quarter of 2022, the decline is pronounced at $124.42 million, accounting for a 50.5 percent decrease.
Despite the substantial remittances made to foreign academic institutions, the report points out a lack of significant reciprocation in the form of inflows from foreign sources into the local education sector. Experts predict that the sluggishness on the part of the Central Bank has compelled migrating students to resort to Bureau De Change operators for acquiring dollars, owing to delays by banks in processing respective Form A.
Recent data from the Home Office of the United Kingdom indicates a significant rise of 222.8 percent in the number of study visas issued to Nigerians, reaching 65,929 by June 2022 compared to 20,427 during the corresponding period in 2021.
The observed scarcity of foreign exchange on the official market has forced individuals and businesses to turn to the black market for dollar transactions, owing to the backlog of accumulated forex demand at the Central Bank. This scarcity is partly attributed to a decline in investment and lower exports of crude oil, which contribute to more than 90 percent of the country’s export income.
Addressing the situation, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, attributed the challenges in the education sector to the government’s insufficient investment, resulting in deteriorating infrastructure and the production of underqualified graduates. Similarly, Professor Alabi Thomas from the Federal University of Technology, Minna, pointed out that government policies have continued to impede the growth of the education sector, leading to the current trend of student migration.