It’s not news that a lot of Nigerians are opting to study abroad because of the challenges that our education system has. The question is, is studying abroad overrated? Do you really need a degree from an institution abroad to have a competitive advantage in the corporate world? In the first part of this column, David Hundeyin shares his thoughts about the topic with us. At the end of the day, it is not about where you study but what you make of the knowledge you have gained.

Enjoy today’s hot topic.

The idea of studying abroad as a matter of course is not a historically normal one and is in itself, something which needs to die a natural death over time. Of course, this can only happen when Nigerian institutions can begin to compete with their international counterparts. Right now, this is far from the case. Of the world’s top 26 economies, Nigeria is probably the only one without a truly international-standard undergraduate higher institution which is neither privately owned nor inaccessible. Even the privately owned and inaccessible institutions here, by nature of their existence as business concerns, place more emphasis on making money than on academic and research excellence which is the bread and butter of global university rankings. This has made Nigerian students from middle to upper class backgrounds the most prolific “education tourists” in the world relative to their country’s size. The reasoning is that not only do foreign institutions impart better training and more respected qualifications, but that there is a certain prestige attached to being a “foreign graduate”.

It is not hard to see where such reasoning comes from, particularly in the Nigerian context. Nigerians over the years have developed a self destructive tendency to overrate and almost worship all that is foreign, whether it is actually better than what they have right next to them. This mixture of ignorance, naivety and several complexes has created a serious problem as far as foreign education is concerned in the Nigeria. Too many Nigerians are uninformed when it comes to the subject of foreign education and they become totally bamboozled by the glitz and razzmatazz of being in a foreign country, far away from home, having no parental restrictions, having your own money and a million things to do with it and so on. After that initial honeymoon period comes the sudden jarring dose of reality when they realise that their grades are terrible and they have to face their parents potentially with a Third Class or a Pass, or that life abroad is not the Nirvana it is portrayed as to us when we are in Nigeria.

What is more, perhaps the most important thing many Nigerians fail to understand about studying abroad is that the purpose of the degree or qualification is to better oneself: that foreign degree certificate is not a magic piece of paper that guarantees you a job in Nigeria or anywhere. I got my degree and worked for two years in the UK across a nice variety of roles and when I came back, even with my qualifications and my experience and my tingly foreign accent and my family connections, I still had to step into that boardroom and show them why they should hire me. They grilled me mercilessly with questions from every angle and I had to take it and give it back with interest. No one looks at your face in Nigeria! There are 177,000,000 people competing. I know someone from university who was unserious and barely scraped a 2:2. He now works for a big financial firm on Victoria Island and probably makes more money than I do. My friend’s brother studied engineering at UNIBEN and graduated in 2011. He is now an engineer with a major oil servicing firm. A friend of mine who studied engineering at my fancy British university also graduated in 2011 and is currently working in an IKEA store in Southeast London and doing Vemma Verve Multi Level Marketing sales (GNLD as we know it here) on the side. Again, it’s not what degree you get or where you got it from, but what you do and how far you go with it!

Watch out for the second part next week. Don’t forget to visit the portal and register to begin stress-free admission into a reputable university. Also get in touch with us with your comments and enquiries. You can send us an email – or send us a tweet or a Facebook message.


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