Nigerians Spend $340 Million on Foreign School Applications in 6 Months: CBN Report

In the first half of 2023, aspiring Nigerian students seeking admission to foreign universities spent a staggering $340.84 million on application fees, according to data sourced from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This remarkable expenditure raises pressing concerns about the state of Nigeria’s education sector and the implications of such significant outflows of foreign exchange.

The reported figure represents a significant decline of 44.28 percent when compared to the previous quarter, as detailed in the CBN’s records on expenditures for educational services in the foreign exchange sector.

Breaking down these figures, the apex bank’s records indicate that in April 2023, a total of $40.54 million was allocated for foreign education, a sum that slightly increased to $48.81 million in May of the same year.

However, June 2023 witnessed a noteworthy reduction in spending, with only $32.61 million earmarked for foreign education during that month.

When contrasted with the $218.88 million spent in the first quarter of 2023, this decline becomes even more conspicuous, marking a substantial decrease of $96.92 million, which equates to a 44.28 percent reduction.

Comparing the figures from the first half of 2023 to the corresponding period in the previous year, the performance decline is notably significant, standing at a staggering $124.42 million, reflecting a 50.5 percent decrease, as reported by PUNCH newspaper.

Of particular concern is the limited reciprocity in terms of funds flowing back into the local education sector from foreign academic institutions. The lopsided nature of this financial flow raises questions about the balance of educational investments and the impact on the country’s education infrastructure.

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The recent Foreign Exchange (FX) harmonization policy, which has made it increasingly challenging to access foreign exchange from the CBN, has led many students to seek foreign exchange services from Bureau de Change operators due to delays in banks processing the requisite Form A. This has introduced additional complexities and costs for students seeking to study abroad.

PUNCH newspaper highlighted an alarming trend of increased study visas granted to Nigerians. According to recent data from the British Home Office, study visas issued to Nigerians surged by a remarkable 222.8 percent, with 65,929 visas granted as of June 2022, compared to 20,427 during the same period in 2021. This surge in study visas reflects the determination of Nigerian students to pursue higher education abroad despite the challenges posed by foreign exchange restrictions.

The CBN continues to grapple with a backlog of accumulated forex demand in the official market, driving individuals and businesses to resort to the black market to acquire dollars. The dwindling dollar inflow to Nigeria in recent years is attributed to declining investments and a reduction in crude oil exports, which account for over 90 percent of the country’s export income. These economic factors exacerbate the challenges facing Nigerian students seeking foreign education opportunities and the overall health of the education sector.

This alarming trend underscores the urgent need to address the challenges within the education sector and the foreign exchange market to ensure that students have access to quality education without being unduly burdened by financial constraints.

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