Mr Iain Stewart, a Member of the British Parliament said that about 30,000 Nigerian students would be studying in various universities across the United Kingdom by 2015.
He spoke at a seminar organised by Focus Learning Support (FLS) in collaboration with Global Development Partnerships, Sodji Sports Foundation and the University of East London at the Westminster.
“There will be nearly 30,000 Nigerian students in the UK BY 2015. These numbers account for seven per cent of the total UK university population; this is a very significant number,’’ he said.
There are 17,585 Nigerian students studying in British universities in the current academic year, about a thousand higher than the 16,680 registered in the 2009/10 academic session. Nigeria’s student population is the third highest from non European Union countries, trailing 39,090 recorded for India and 67,325 for China, according to statistics provided by UK Council for International Student Affairs.
The MP who explained further that the international students market was worth nearly 10 billion pounds, urged the UK politicians and the academic sector to place more importance on the sector.
“It is a global market and we have to offer the very best courses and best academic practices if we want to continue to attract students in large numbers,’’ he stressed.
Stewart commended FSL for supporting many students from Nigeria to further their studies in the UK to enable them compete with the global demands.
Dr Sam Wodi of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, in his presentation on the Rivers experience, faulted the perception that the standard of education in Nigeria had fallen.
“This cannot be sustained as more than 40 Bachelors Degree graduates from various Nigerian universities sent by Rivers State Government Scholarship to pursue masters degrees in the University of Coventry and Teesside, performed excellently with seven first class.’’
Dr Elizabeth Achinewhu-Nworgu, Chief Executive Officer of FSL, said the organisation in collaboration with the UK Border Agency had facilitated the admission of more than 600 students into the UK universities and colleges since inception in 2003.
“Out of this number 98 per cent have graduated and gone back home to better utilise the skills gained from the British education.
“In 2011, 33 Masters degree Rivers State Scholarship Board (RSSB) sponsored students graduated from the University of Coventry and Teesside and have since returned to work for their communities in Nigeria,’’ Achinewhu-Nworgu said.