In the first half of 2023, Nigerians aspiring to secure admission to foreign universities spent a $340.84 million on application fees. This information, sourced from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), raises significant concerns about the state of the country’s education sector.
The figure marked a notable decline of 44.28 percent when compared to the previous quarter. This data comes from the CBN’s records on expenditure for educational services within the foreign exchange sector.
Breaking down the numbers, the apex bank reported that in April 2023, $40.54 million was allocated for foreign education. This amount will slightly increase to $48.81 million in May 2023.
However, in June 2023, there was a noticeable drop in spending, with just $32.61 million going towards foreign education.
When contrasting this with the $218.88 million spent in the first quarter of 2023, the reduction becomes even more apparent—a decrease of $96.92 million, equivalent to 44.28 percent.
According to PUNCH newspaper, comparing the first half of 2023 to the same period in the previous year, the performance decline stands at a significant $124.42 million, or 50.5 percent.
What’s particularly worrying is the lack of significant reciprocity in terms of funds flowing back into the local education sector from foreign academic institutions.
As a consequence of the recent FX harmonisation policy, which has made it very challenging to get foreign exchange from CBN, many students have resorted to getting theirs from Bureau de Change operators. This is often due to delays in banks processing the requisite Form A.
PUNCH noted, and as verified by recent data obtained from the British Home Office, it revealed a remarkable increase in the number of study visas granted to Nigerians. These numbers rose by a staggering 222.8 percent, with 65,929 visas issued as of June 2022, compared to 20,427 during the same period in 2021.
The CBN grapples with a backlog of accumulated forex demand in the official market, which effectively pushes individuals and businesses to resort to the black market to acquire dollars.
The shrinking dollar inflow to Nigeria over recent years is a result of declining investments and a reduction in crude oil exports, which account for more than 90 percent of the country’s export income.