Olubunmi Tunji Ojo, the interior minister, made an astounding revelation recently that, Nigeria has witnessed a substantial surge in the number of its students pursuing higher education in the United Kingdom over the past five years, with nearly 100,000 students departing for British universities.

This great revelation was made during the opening ceremony of the 2023 University of Lagos International Week. The event’s theme, “Breaking the Borders of Partnership,” highlights the global nature of education and the need for cooperation across boundaries.

Minister Tunji-Ojo, addressing the audience, emphasised the remarkable growth in the number of Nigerian students enrolling in UK universities between 2017 and 2022. Quoting statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), he stated that approximately 99,985 Nigerian students had embarked on their educational journeys in the UK during this period.

While acknowledging that some students might have pursued this path for various reasons, including the popular “JAPA” trend, Olubunmi Tunji Ojo also emphasised that “a larger chunk of these students have left with the purest intent to seek further knowledge for self-advancement.”

Minister Olubunmi Tunji Ojo Pledges to Ease Passport Application Process for Nigerian Students

Minister Olubunmi Tunji Ojo also highlighted the challenges Nigerian students face when obtaining international passports, despite having paid for them. The minister said, “Now, in going all through this, therefore, I may want to ask why our students should now suffer to acquire international passports, even when they have paid for them.”

He further explained his commitment to simplifying the passport application process, stating, “By January next year, Nigerians will be able to complete this application process online, and by February next year, with collaboration and partnership with other relevant stakeholders, Nigerians will have their passports delivered to their homes, offices, and other locations of their choice.”

The simplified process for applying for a passport will also be used for applying for a visa, making both processes easier and faster. The government wants to improve services for Nigerian students learning abroad and get more foreign students to come to Nigerian universities. This project fits in with those goals.

Furthermore, minister Olubunmi Tunji Ojo noted that more than 100 Nigerian students annually receive postgraduate scholarships to study in the UK. He urged the academic community to play a crucial role in inspiring the next generation and promoting collaboration over competition.

Tunji Ojo Stated, “Your academic recommendations hold the potential to reshape policies and practises. Engage with policymakers, industry leaders, and civil society to ensure that your insights are translated into action.” Emphasising knowledge sharing and partnerships is essential to addressing global challenges effectively.

The event’s main speaker, University of Dundee Vice Chancellor Prof. Iain Gillespie, stressed the need of cooperation between institutions, companies, and governments to solve problems. He underlined the need of true and fair relationships to change lives locally and worldwide.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, underlined the importance of internationalisation in higher education, emphasising the necessity of promoting local and global knowledge sharing, partnerships, and collaborative actions in teaching, learning, and research.

Mr. Sonny Echono, Executive Secretary of TETFund, expressed the organization’s commitment to promoting internationalisation through scholarships and improving the curricula to be globally competitive, with a focus on stable academic calendars and timely postgraduate supervision.

As the world continues to shrink due to globalisation, the educational landscape is adapting to these changes, providing opportunities for students and educators alike to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. The surge in Nigerian students studying abroad is just one example of this global transformation, reflecting the shared pursuit of knowledge and self-advancement.

The government’s commitment to simplifying administrative processes and fostering internationalisation further facilitates this trend, paving the way for a brighter and more interconnected future.