May 14, 2015

Looking For A Study Destination? Australian Universities Offer Increasing African Presence

Increasing African Student Presence in Australia

From Australia, reports indicate significant increases in the number of African students studying there.

In a report entitled, "Big increase in number of Nigerian students at Australian universities", an authoritative Australian news media notes a doubling of student numbers compared with last year. Reasons for this were also advanced (see below).

The Australian flag
Destination Australia for increasing number of African students
The increase, according to the news story, is due to many factors.
Newly crowned as Africa’s largest ­economy, Nigeria is the latest developing country to rapidly expand the number of international students it sends to Australia.

This year nearly double the number of Nigerians are studying in Australia compared with last year, many of them engineering students planning to work in their country’s oil industry.

By the end of May this year there were 923 Nigerian students enrolled in Australia, nearly double the number last year. Over 600 are in ­universities with nearly 250 in ­vocational ­education.
This explosive growth, which has pushed out traditional favourites, has seen some heart-warming improvements like the appointment of university representatives in Nigeria, and perhaps, also in other African countries:
The University of NSW has seen massive growth...

So much so that, in UNSW’s student intake for the about-to-commence ­second semester, Nigeria will be ahead of traditionally strong source countries such as Singapore, Thailand and ­Taiwan. Next year it is likely to be in universities’ top 10 source ­countries for international students, Mr Voninski said.

UNSW, which has one of Australia’s best regarded engineering schools, has homed in on the Nigerian market, as well as other African countries where increasing numbers of students are studying overseas. “We started doing more in Africa about three years ago,” Mr Voninski said.

UNSW now has a permanent representative in Nigeria, Walter Ngwu, who said there was strong demand for overseas education in Nigeria. Its 129 universities could only accept an intake of 520,000 students each year, compared with about 1.6 million students who sit the university entrance exam.
Like me, you may be wondering the reasons behind this sudden turn of events. Nigerians have always preferred schools in the UK, the USA and then other countries; in that order. What changed? What caused this?

The causes are not far-fetched according to the report. Aside from attributing it early on in the report to Nigeria being the new "...Africa’s largest ­economy", it more specifically points a guilty finger to unfriendly UK policies which are not only harsh but also do not favor Nigerians.
Most Nigerian students have ­traditionally gone to the United Kingdom, where the country is the third-largest supplier of students after China and India. However, the UK’s decision to clamp down on post-study work rights for international students has caused ­Nigerians to consider other ­destinations, Mr Ngwu said.

He said that Australia’s streamlined visa processing for international ­students, as well as its post-study work rights scheme which offers a two-year stay in Australia after graduation for bachelor degree students, were ­attractive to Nigerians.
In the main, traveling to Australia to study is good, but certain obstacles have to be borne in mind by all intending students.
However, there are obstacles to ­studying in Australia. “High tuition fees and distance from Nigeria remain major barriers,” Mr Ngwu said, noting that the UK was only a six-hour flight away.
The good thing here is that there appear to be forces inside of Australia who are working to make things easier and better for students from Nigeria and other countries in Africa.
Austrade is sponsoring an Australian education road-show in September this year to Nigeria and to nearby Ghana, from where there is also a ­growing number of students coming to Australia. So far Austrade has attracted interest from 22 universities and vocational education providers.

The general manager of Austrade’s government, ministerial and international education division, John Angley, said it was a very high priority for Austrade to promote emerging education markets such as sub-Saharan Africa.

The University of Adelaide is also looking hard at the African market.

“The middle class in Nigeria, and the Nigerian diaspora, is growing . . . more Nigerians are seeking a world-class education,” said Kent Anderson, the university’s pro vice-chancellor (international).
We can only hope that things continue to get better and better for, not only the Nigerian or Ghanaian student intending to study in Australia, but also for all African students from any of the sub-Saharan countries.

Related: Scholarships & Study in Australia for International Students

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