Nigerian Students Enrollment In UK Universities Dropped By 39% Over Three Years

A recent data by, a leading information portal about UK higher education system, has shown a steady decline in the enrollment rate of Nigerian students in UK varsities in the past three years. The UK is becoming a less coveted destination for education by Nigerians.

According to the latest report, 10,540 Nigerian students were enrolled in UK universities in the 2017/18 academic year. In the 2012/2013 session, the figure was 17,390, amounting to 39 percent decrease in three years.

 Based on the latest official enrollment data about 183 higher education providers in the UK, discovered that students from former British colonies account for almost 29 percent of all international students, but their number has decreased by 6 percent compared to five years ago.

The report also noted that although the number of Indian students had decreased by 12 percent compared to five years ago, India remains the most popular country of origin for international students coming from former British colonies. 

During the past academic year, exactly 19,750 Indian students were studying in the UK.

For many years, the UK and the United States have been top study destinations for Nigerians. Reasons for the rush abroad are obvious: The decline in the standard of education in Nigerian varsities and several other factors. 

Other factors like job prospects after graduation, better opportunities and prestige have fueled the migration of Nigerian students abroad over time. But this is changing.

Many reasons have been advanced for this steady decline in enrollment rate of Nigerians in UK varsities. The Department of Education in the UK recently relaxed its post-study rule for undergraduate and master’s students. Before, international students had to return to their home countries immediately after their studies. Following the recent policy change, they will now be eligible to work for six months post-graduation, while doctoral candidates are eligible to renew their stay for up to one year.

The high cost of studying in the UK is also a crucial factor. This was what discouraged Amiebi, a Nigerian from Rivers State from studying in the UK last year.


“For me, the UK is too expensive. That was why I went to India,” Amiebi, who just graduated from the Noida International University in India, told Sahara Reporters.

Agu Onyemaechi, who completed a master’s degree in Environmental Sustainability at the Birmingham City University, United Kingdom, spent roughly £15000 on tuition and living cost in 2014. 

If Onyemaechi were to enroll for the same degree now, he would have to pay almost double the amount he spent in 2014 because of the drop in the value of the naira.

Professor Segun Ajibola, the President/Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, attributed the drop in enrolment rate on the economic downturn which saw a drastic fall of the naira against the dollar and the GBP.

Sharing his views on the issue with Sahara Reporters, Ajibola, who is also the Dean, College of Postgraduate Studies, Caleb University, maintained that the situation had been made worse because parents sending their children to study in the UK have not witnessed an increase in income.

He said, “Their capability to sponsor their children overseas has reduced significantly because of the foreign exchange rate. The second reason is that in Nigeria, so many private universities are almost of equal standard to British schools in terms of facilities and availability of programs. This has also reduced the attraction to UK varsities.

“Just as the UK has witnessed a reduction in enrolment rate, I am sure that it is the same for the US and other parts of Europe if the records are confirmed. Prospective college students are encouraged to stay back home. If it costs you N5m per annum to sponsor your child abroad, now it will cost you around N10m to do so. Where do you get the N10m? This is because your income as a parent income has not increased by a similar proportion in the last couple of years.”

Ajibola lamented that the rush for education abroad was seriously affecting the Nigerian economy.

The don called for more funding of Nigerian universities.

He added, “This is a challenge to the Nigerian government to improve the quality of educational services in Nigerian in order to discourage the migration to Europe, Africa and American schools. The less it happens, the better for us in Nigeria economically.

“The conditions in these European countries are becoming tougher, stricter and less conducive. Before, in some European countries, the attraction was that if you studied there, you could stay back and work but some countries are discouraging this. Nigerian graduates out there are struggling with the fact that they have to go back to their country after their studies. Where are the jobs in Nigeria? Is it not better to slug it out at home rather than spend so much acquiring education abroad only to return home to face unemployment?”


Written by PH

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