17 Reasons Nigerians Prefer Foreign Universities

Last updated on June 23rd, 2022 at 09:12 pm


When compiling the research on why Nigerians prefer foreign universities, we stumbled upon research by Universities UK (UKK) that between the 2014/2015 session, foreign students and their visitors generated £25.8 billion in gross output for the United Kingdom economy.

Another report revealed that Nigeria is the third-largest country after China and India that’s sending a large number of its students to the UK for studies which is one of the reasons there is pressure on Nigeria’s foreign exchange considering the number of forex applications by students.

More so, a large number of Nigerian students are studying mainly in the US and UK. Currently, in the UK, there are more than 18000 Nigerian students while in the US there are about 8,000 Nigerian students.


This is a clear indication that our educational sector needs an overhaul.

Top Reasons Nigerians Prefer Foreign Universities

  1. Conducive learning environment
  2. Support for research
  3. Better organization
  4. Job opportunities after studies
  5. Better earnings after completion of studies
  6. Better improvement
  7. Choice of course
  8. Quest to be a global employee/resource person
  9. Practical experience better in overseas universities
  10. Proper support
  11. Technology driven
  12. No room for plagiarism
  13. Rot in the Nigerian education system
  14. Rigorous admission procedures in Nigeria
  15. Learning facilities
  16. Competent tutors
  17. No strike, no delay

Which foreign universities do Nigerians prefer most?

The top ten countries that Nigerian students go to for studies (graduate and post-graduates) are Russia, Finland, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia, Ghana, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom.

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the reigning Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in 2014 said in a lecture that there were around 71,000 Nigerian students in Ghana’s tertiary institutions and they spent about US$1 billion on tuition and upkeep.

“The tuition paid by Nigerian students studying in Ghana with a better-organised education system is more than the annual budget of all federal universities in the country,” University World News quoted the emir as saying.

InfomediaNG in a bid to give you first-hand information from a cross-section of Nigerians who have studied abroad talked to us about why they chose foreign universities.

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Why Nigerians prefer foreign universities

Dr Okodua Obehi, Mr. Ajayi Festus, and Mr. John-Paul Babawale unanimously say foreign universities are more organized, result-oriented and more practical than Nigerian universities.

Below are their responses.

When asked why Dr. Okodua Obehi opted for a foreign university, “I decided to further my studies abroad because I could not get the course of my choice here in Nigeria.

I can only speak regarding my profession

And it’s the same material being taught everywhere

At my level, I would say there is a more conducive environment for study but at the higher level there is better organization and provision for research, a chance to be the best at what we do and that is not given here.

Mr Ajayi Festus having bagged a first degree from the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria, took an academic journey to the University of East London, where he obtained an MSc in International Business Management speaks,

Why did you decide to further your studies abroad and not here in Nigeria?

“I guess same reason why every futuristic person travels abroad. I travelled to improve myself in all areas.”The world today is interconnected like never before and to be a global employee/resource person, there is the need to be up to date with one’s counterparts everywhere in the world.So, in a nutshell, I travelled abroad to be a global resource person.

Why Nigerians Prefer Foreign Universities to Nigerian institutions
Photo credit: Leeds Business School

What are the major differences between the Nigerian educational system and those outside the country?

It’s a lot really. It’s more practical, recent and insightful. You get proper support, more like people really want you to succeed.

It’s technology-driven and there is no room for plagiarism. At the end of the day, you can truly take credit and be satisfied with your efforts even if it’s below your expectation.

Who is to blame for migration or somewhat brain drain because some stay back after their studies?

I will answer it this way: Who has the responsibility to make the Nigerian environment more conducive for its citizens? The Government.

I know everyone has got a role to play but if you don’t lead by example, people won’t listen to insincere leadership.

What is the way forward?

I seriously don’t know how to answer this question and I’m being honest here. One thing I’ll say is this, the decision to make Nigeria (and by extension the education system) better does not lie with that Nigerian who barely lives on $1 per day but with the elite ruling class.

The day they see the Nigerian project as truely for all and not for a few plutocrats who only care about plundering the nation’s resources, we can start talking about the way forward. As it stands, every road leads back to the start point in the circle.

If you are able to make a recommendation to a student, which would it be: Nigerian University or Foreign University?

It’s a no-brainer, Foreign University especially if the institution is research-oriented.

How can Nigerian University education standards meet up with the foreign ones?

I think it will require the efforts of everyone involved in some capacity with decision making as regards our education sector.

While I strongly believe there is the need to vote more resources into education in the annual budget, I also think we are not doing so well managing the little resources we have at the moment.

There is the need to brace to the fact that Government property is ours also and where we are able to maintain them, attention can be shifted to other areas in subsequent budgeting.

Importantly, I think we are sometimes running an antiquated curriculum. I do not see any practical change in our education curriculum over the years other than the regular name changing.

Why is it that Nigerian employers appreciate foreign certificates more than Nigerian certificates?

I wouldn’t say I know all the reasons but for an objective employer, I guess it would have to be because they understand the fact and the standards in foreign institutions.

 Mr. John-Paul Babawale

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And finally, Mr. John-Paul Babawale who bagged his B.S in Politics and International relations from the International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan (2008-2012), and M.A International Political Economy from Leeds Beckett University, England (2014-2015) believes in Nigerian dream if all hands are deck.

Why did you opt for a foreign institution?

Rigorous admission procedures and processes made me go abroad. I got my first degree 10 years after I left secondary school.

The availability of learning facilities, conducive environment, and competent tutors are some of the qualities foreign universities have over Nigerians.

In addition, once you get into schools abroad, your graduation date is known, no strike, no delay.

Apart from studies, most Nigerians also love to stay back after their studies, why?

The educational sector in Nigeria is bad and people tend to stay back because of their chances of getting a good and well-paid job. Chances are slim that you get a good upon return to Nigeria.

What’s the way forward for Nigerian universities to meet up with their foreign counterparts?

It’s very simple. The government needs to go back to the drawing board, good back to the grassroots. We have the resources. Our universities need to be restructured in terms of technology ( standard e-library)

Get our teaching training colleges back to life so we can have proper tutors in schools.

That’s one of the reasons why a foreign certificate is a treasure now. Exposure too is another thing an employer considers.

The way forward

Our respondents believe that Nigeria has a long way to go in competing favourably with foreign universities, but they’re optimistic that it could be done.

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It is no more secret that some of the kids of Nigeria’s President Buhari are either through with their studies abroad, or are still undergoing studies in foreign institutions.

One of them is Zahra Buhari, a microbiology student at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.

The president may be able to afford the tuition fees, but what about the kids of the other Nigerian kids who are finding it hard to make ends meet?

Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, once said he paid about N1.4 billion within four months on Rivers students studying at foreign universities on government scholarships.

“In 2010, Nigerian students spent to the tune of N246 billion on UK education sector. Just as Nigerian students in 2012, spent over N1.5 trillion on students studying abroad,” Exam Ethics International, a non-governmental organisation said.

Come to think of it if half of N246 billion is invested by the government to build standards in Nigerian universities, the education sector may become one of the stable sectors that’d be fetching the government huge revenue yearly.

The Nigerian government needs to do more to improve its education sector from the elementary to the university level so that it’ll be attractive and encouraging to students across the world.


UUK (September 13, 2021). “The economic impact of international students”. universitiesuk.ac.uk

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