Nigeria, Tertiary Education and Daily Living for Foreign Students


The continent of Africa is made up of 53 countries, including Madagascar and numerous islands, with the exception of Western Sahara, a region whose governmental control has been disputed for years by both Morocco and Polisario. Africa has a estimated population of 1,001,320,281 people. Africa and Asia are the most populated continents in the world. These regions are populated with more than 75% of the world's population. It is estimated that more than 13% of the world's population lives in Africa. Demographers find it difficult to estimate the true population of Africa due to the vast rural areas and the inability to accurately survey portions of the population.


Nigeria's higher education system is comprised of universities, colleges and professional institutions that specialize in specific areas of instruction (i.e. technology). Nigeria has both state and federally funded institutions; this includes 11 state universities, 28 federal universities, 1 military university that is federally supported and 3 private universities that are recognized and approved by the government. In total, Nigeria has 53 universities, colleges, and professional institutes.


After 3 years of university study students can obtain a Bachelor's degree, with the exception of a Bachelor's degree in Medicine which takes six years.  Students earn a Master's degree with one additional post-Bachelor's year of study and can obtain a Doctorate degree with an additional two to three years of study.


Nigeria's higher education system is the largest provider of higher education in Africa. Nigeria has nearly half a million students and is still unable to meet the populations demand for higher education. To gain university admission students must pass the University Matriculation Examination. During the 2008-2009 academic-year the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board recorded 1,054,060 applications for university admission, 43% of applicants were female. 


Federally funded universities are required by the Federal Government to provide free higher education to Nigerians. This is paid for in part by an Education Tax that applies to all limited liability companies in Nigeria. State universities obtain a portion of their funding from tuition fees paid by students and money collected from the cost of student room and board on campus. Students are generally required to pay minimal fees ranging from less than $1 USD and sometimes as much as $20 USD in student fees for registration, departmental fees, student union fees, books and materials fees, identity card fees, etc. Student fees are nominal and make up less than 4% of the universities annual income. Student fees are discouraged by the federal government and public opinion.


Although, students attending federally funded universities in Nigeria receive tuition free higher education programs, the federal governments funding is inadequate and does not meet the needs of the students which results in a lower quality of education.


Student loans are available to students, but are specifically designed to provide the materials, equipment and resources necessary for professional, degree seeking students.


For foreign students wanting to study in Nigeria, Federal and State universities charge approximately 200 - 300 USD per academic year (3 semesters), while private universities tuition costs range from 700 to as much as 1500 USD depending on the program of study and the university. Nigeria accepts and recognizes foreign degree programs and diplomas. Occasionally, private companies, individuals, agencies and other organizations offer scholarships, loans and stipends to foreign students who want to study in Nigeria.


Living in Nigeria is fairly inexpensive if you live and eat like a Nigerian. However, if you continue to live and eat like a Westerner then Nigeria is very expensive. High quality food and western food items are not available in the traditional open air markets and must be purchased in a store. Items available in stores must be imported and exist in very low quantity, resulting in much higher prices.


To live in a major Nigerian city in a one room apartment with shared kitchen, toilet and bathroom would cost approximately 134 - 280 USD per year, however properties may be of poor quality and not well maintained. When renting an apartment or living quarters it is generally common practice for the landlord to request a one to two year rental agreement with a minimum of one year of rent in advance. When living in highly populated town centers a private apartment may cost from 500 USD to 1,500 USD per year.


For a foreign student planning to study in Nigeria it is important to know that more than 90% of Nigerian's live on less than 1 USD per day. Consistent working electricity should not be expected. Apartments generally depend on electricity supplied by the government which is not dependable or may have their own generator that is dependant on the supply of diesel. Individuals living in Nigeria report that South Nigeria is dangerous, Kano and Abuja are relatively safe. In Nigeria, safety is a problem anywhere, even when living in a gated compound that provides security, when you have to leave the compound for supplies, health care, etc. Water supply is delivered by truck from a well and the water is not potable and electricity is not dependable throughout Nigeria. Transportation and commuting is very difficult and dangerous and most generally requires transportation with the use of a driver and some type of security.

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