It is interesting to note that Nigerians are found almost everywhere in the world. It is either we move on business trips for business purposes, or we go on tourist trips for tourists purposes, or we go on medical trips for medical reasons, or we go to study. Truth is the Nigerian Educational System is really down. Research has shown that over 50% of candidates who sit for the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) by both WAEC and NECO take part in examination malpractice of some sort, and a good number of these go uncaught. Some who are unlucky get their results either withheld or cancelled, but the examining bodies will agree that there are more than those who have been caught. The primary school and secondary school levels in our country have been found not to deliver the quality education that is required for a heightened career level. Worse still and more crucial in fact, is the decline in the quality of tertiary (university) education in the country. This makes our secondary school graduates especially to look for international study destinations where they can get a more quality education, and also a chance to explore countries with culture different from their home country. Let no one say that we are degrading our beloved country by going abroad to study, but I think that until the Nigerian educational system improves more than the level it is today, studying abroad will be the best option for a better education than what obtains here.
There are several options when it comes to a study abroad destination for Nigerian students. But also, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration before any Nigerian student would choose a study destination. Some writers may actually list some countries and even go ahead to list some universities that they term to be the best study destination, but the mistake here is everyone has different needs, preference, and character. What may appeal to someone may not appeal to me, and vice versa. Some Nigerians are looking for cheap countries to study, while some others do not mind the price, but are concerned with the quality. Some need a place where there is security; some need quiet countries; some need countries with few people in it; some need a noisy and busy country. Some students need to work while studying abroad, while some others need a place where they can completely focus on their studies without working. So, it will be absolutely wrong to list some countries and declare them the best international destination; hence, I will list some factors that you may consider in choosing the best study destination for you.
FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED BEFORE CHOOSING A STUDY DESTINATION
- Population: Some students will like to study in a quiet country without city-life distractions, while others may choose to combine fun and city-life with studying. Every country either has a busy city life (most likely from a larger population) while others have a smaller population with less noise and distraction. The fact is you will require what appeals to you in order to choose the best study destination for you. If you are the type of person who will prefer to study in a busy country, go for the busy ones; and if you prefer a quiet country, there are options for you. Do not settle for less than what you want because it will affect your studies.
- Security: Nigeria is safer than some other countries so do not rush out just yet! Not just in terms of security, but also in terms of natural disasters. Some countries experience tornado, storm and several other natural disasters that cause devastation to whatever country that gets hit by them. Some countries out there have worse policing and national security than Nigeria, so don’t jump into any country just considering the finances alone, else you may regret it. No one will want to end up in a worse security situation than here in Nigeria, so take your time and put this as the first factor in deciding the best international study destination for yourself, or for whomever it is you are processing for.
- Distance: Some may not consider this but this is a very important factor to consider. There are countries which are very far away from home and very expensive to fly to and from, hence it becomes impossible to come home from studies in case of any important home event. If you know you will need to come home for studies often, then you may need to choose a country that is nearer to Nigeria. But if you do not intend to return home often or not at all, then you are free to go as far as you want from home, and get exposed to a very different culture and time zone than what is in Nigeria. Imagine the fun of waking up in the morning and then calling your people in Nigeria only to discover that they were just about to hit the bed for the night!
- Tuition: An important thing! This is often the consideration of many Nigerians who seek to study abroad. Check your finances and decide on the countries and universities with the tuition fee that you can afford. Many applicants make a common mistake – they make adequate preparations for their first year alone and believe that ‘manna from heaven’ will come to them in the form of scholarships or grants. Be aware that you are going to your study destination as a foreigner, an international student, with no citizenship rights. You cannot vote or be voted for, or take part in decision making, or air your views anyhow. You also cannot go anywhere without your international passport and student ID card. The universities will likely consider their students first for scholarships before extending to foreign students. Even the tuition fee charged international students in many countries are up to three times bigger than what they charge their own students. It is not wise to depend totally on scholarships. By the way, the scholarship may be just a discount off tuition fee, and nothing more than that. You also need to perform excellently well in order to get this, most of the time. Do not be discouraged. If you are a good student you will get a scholarship, but do not depend on it totally and appear unprepared. Rather, come prepared.
- Cost of Living: You’re certainly not going to sleep out in the cold in winter. You’re going to get accommodation, books, clothes, food, groceries, etc. You’ll need money for transportation, for weekend outings, sightseeing, and the likes. Though the student’s spending will depend on his or her interests, likes or dislikes, the most basic things like accommodation, food, books, clothes and transport, will actually take up the largest share of your spending. This is called cost of living. Put this into consideration. There are countries that are expensive to live in, and there are those that are cheaper; there are some areas in some countries that are more expensive to live in than other states in the same country. In order not to find yourself stranded, go for the country/area with the cost of living that you can afford, especially accommodation.
- Ability to Work: Here’s a big one. Would you like to get involved in some part time work that would earn you some cash? Then it’ll be cool to go for countries that allow this! Not all study abroad destinations will permit you to work while studying, but majority of them will, especially the most popular ones. Check very well to confirm if you would be able to work in the country you’re choosing to go to else you might be in for some big and stranded surprise.
- Language: English is the official language in Nigeria, but not throughout the world! There are countries with different languages. E.g., the official language in Denmark is Danish, and Russia is Russian, and Ukraine is Ukrainian, and Germany is German, and Austria is German, and Cyprus is Greek/Turkish, and Turkey is Turkish, and Greece is Greek and Australia is English, and so on. You will need to speak at least the basics of their language if you want to study in their country! And some will even require you to learn their language and study in it. So take the language of instruction in the schools you are applying to into consideration.
- Admission Requirements: Some countries have strict admission requirements. WAEC/NECO certificate are not enough for direct university entrance in some countries. Some will require A-level, some form of foundation/preparatory classes, language course, 100 level transcript, work experience, etc. Check the universities that you are going to apply for and review their admission requirements, ensuring that you will be able to meet up with it before you apply. Also keep deadlines in mind because applying a day past the deadline in most countries will be refused.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Studying abroad is not just about the cost. Cost is actually a major deciding factor but not the only one. You should really consider the above factors in deciding where to study, if you have really decided to study outside Nigeria.
Alright, this is the beginning. In my next post, I’ll list all popular study destinations to the best of my knowledge and then classify them according to the factors which I stated above. It will be important for you to really consider and confirm what I’ll post next, as it might be an eye-opener to you. Do not forget that studying outside Nigeria is a simple process and you really do not have to employ any agent, except you really want to.