22 SES 02 B, Paper Session
In recent years, there has been an increasing number of students attending Higher Education (HE) institutions abroad. Since the 1950s, about 200,000 students were estimated to have travelled abroad to study with an increase of over 2 million students in 2012 (Wells, 2014). In 2017-2018, the number of international students in the UK was 458,490; with Nigeria ranked 6th among the 10 top non-European sending countries. Nigeria is ranked first among African sending countries with a total of 10,540 of Nigerian students pursuing a higher education degree in the UK (Mena Report, 2016; UKCISA Report, 2019). As research has revealed, the rapid increase in student mobility has seen many students studying in countries outside their country of birth, and the UK appears to be among Nigerian students’ preferred destination (Eze, 2014).
Despite the private sector’s involvement in providing higher education in Nigeria, student mobility of Nigerian students has not significantly declined. This paper is based on ongoing research exploring why Nigerian students choose to study in the UK and the contributing factors that influence their decision to remain or leave the UK after their studies. Research has shown that students travelling abroad is an acute loss of income and has an impact on developing the knowledge base and workforce of sending nations (Adunwoke, 2018; Oberoi & Lin, 2006; Okoli, 2013; Siekierski et al, 2018). Preliminary findings from the pilot study obtained through a qualitative one to one interview reveal the personal accounts of drivers of international mobility among Nigerian students and also their accounts of decisions to remain or leave the UK after their studies.
The recent increase in the number of Nigerian students seeking higher degrees has been attributed to the successes of the concluded Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2000 and the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 on education (Ndille, 2018; Verger, 2012). While much has been stated on the achievements of the just concluded MDGs, the new SDGs in sub-Saharan Africa and particularly the developments in technology advancement in Nigeria, there is still an increasing number of Nigerian students choosing to study abroad. It is, therefore, is vital to explore the decisions and aspirations of Nigerian students choosing to study abroad and why they choose the UK as a study destination.
The pilot study is based on an ongoing qualitative study on why Nigerian students choose to study abroad for their higher education. This pilot study examines the data collection instrument that will be used in the main study. Conducting a pilot study with clear research aim(s) and objectives can contribute to valuable information to assist researchers in their main study.
This research aims to explore why Nigerian students decide to study abroad with a growing number choosing to remain in the UK after their studies. In doing so, this research seeks to examine the complexities associated with learning across cultures and the nuances of student mobility.
The objectives of this research are as follows:
- To document the lived experiences of Nigerian students studying in the UK.
- To explore the educational decision-making process of Nigerian students studying in Nigeria and the UK.
- To map the number of students that return and remain in the UK after their studies.
- To establish the barriers and processes used when students choose to remain in their host country after studies.
- To evaluate the financial, social and economic cost of Nigerian students studying abroad (considering the backdrop of the MDGs and SDGs).
- To evaluate the education policies in Nigeria addressing international student mobility.
Qualitative data for this pilot study was collected using one-on-one semi-structured interviews to allow participants to provide answers in their own words (Creswell & Clark, 2007; Sanders et al, 2016 ) on their higher education aspirations and reasons for choosing the UK for their higher education. The aim for using this type of interview is to elicit more focused responses and flexibility in questioning and answers solicited from Nigerian students who have had their higher education degree in the United Kingdom (Bryman, 2013; Kvale & Flick, 2007). The interviews conducted offered insights on the views of students on their educational experiences in Nigeria and how these experiences have shaped their higher education aspirations and choice of the UK for their higher educational pursuit. Semi-structured interviews are used to gain information and to explore research questions by exploring varied views of participants (Saunders e al., 2016; Bryman, 2013). This research will embrace Tikly’s post-colonial approach to understand the driver(s) of international student mobility of Nigerian students to the UK and their higher education aspiration (Tikly, 2004; Tikly, 2010; Walker, 2014). The history of colonial education in Nigeria will be explored using his approach of ‘post-colonial’ critique to understand the impact of colonial education on present-day Nigeria. The post-colonial critique is centrally concerned with the ongoing impact of western education and globalisation on social inequality in post-colonial low in-come countries (Tikly, 2004; Tikly 2010; LaRocque, 2008; Patrinos & Sosale, 2007; Verger, 2012). Data Collection Instrument The current global health crisis made conducting a face to face interviews not feasible, but this was leveraged by conducting online one to one interview. The researcher used the instrument of online interviews for data collection for the pilot study. The interviews were conducted via skype and Microsoft Teams. The choice of which platform used was dependent on which the participant felt more comfortable or convenient. Interviews were all scheduled around participants’ convenient time. Interviews lasted for 30-45 minutes. The researcher conducted a total of 8 interviews on Nigerian students and two other international students who have completed their higher education degrees in schools across the UK in different fields of study. Participants The focus of the pilot study was to identify and hear the personal accounts of Nigerian students who have had their higher education in the UK. I interviewed eight participants, six Nigerians who have completed their higher education degree in the UK.
From this study, the researcher has identified some drivers of Nigerian student mobility and some factors that influence their decision to leave or remain after completing their studies. From the interviews, it was evident that Nigerian students believe the British educational system is of better quality than that of Nigeria and even other nations. There seemed to be an agreement across participants on their preference for UK education even though they shared different reasons for their choice. Their decision to study in the UK was mainly driven by family, quality of education, Nigerian education ties to Britain and the opportunity to reside in the UK or use the UK as a pathway to migrate to other western countries of their choice. While most research on student mobility from sub-Saharan Africa to western nations points at migration as the main reason to study abroad (Levatino, 2017; Zheng, 2014; Biene et al, 2014 Biene et al, 2015; Ziguras & Gribble, 2015; Verbik & Lasanowski, 2007). The below excerpt from an interview with a participant for this research shows other factors drive higher education mobility. Question: Why did you choose to study abroad for your higher education? I had a network of alumni who studied here in the U.K. in I.T. related courses. The British curriculum is also seen to be better than the Nigeria Curriculum. The British curriculum and the mode of education delivery attracted me to the U.K. I also want to have experience in international education. I feel having a touch of international education will give me an advantage. From the personal accounts of participants on what drives Nigeria students to study abroad and their choice of the UK, the value placed on UK education stood out while also expressing their need to be part of a global world.
Adunwoke, P. 2018. The lecturer explains why Nigerian Youths prefer Studying Abroad.[Online] Available at: https://m.guardian.ng/news/lecturer-explains-why-nigerian-youths-prefer-studying-abroad/ [Accessed 12 December 2019]. Beine, M., Noel, R., & Ragot, L. 2014. The determinants of international mobility of students. Economics of Education Review, 41, 40–54 Braun, V. & Clarke, V. 2006. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology. 3(2) pp.77-101. Creswell, J.W, & Clark, V.L. 2007. Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. SAGE. LaRocque, N. 2008. Public-Private Partnerships In Basic Education: An International Review. CfBT Education Trust. Levatino, A. 2017. Transnational higher education and international student mobility: determinants and linkage. Higher Education, 73(5), pp.637–653. Ndille, R.N. 2018. Educational Transformation in Post-Independence Africa: A Historical Assessment of the Africanization Project. Oberoi, S.S. and Lin, V. 2006. Brain drain of doctors from southern Africa: brain gain for Australia. Australian Health Review, 30(1), pp. 25-33. OECD .2019. International student mobility (indicator). [Online] (Accessed on 18 September 2019]. Okoli, N. 2013. Issues and Challenges in Cross-Border in Higher Education: The Sub-Saharan African (SSA) Experience. American Journal of Educational Research. [Online].1(1), pp. 11-15. Patrinos, H.A, & Sosale, S. 2007. Mobilizing the Private Sector for Public Education: A view of the Trenches, World Bank: Washington DC. Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. 2016. Research Methods for Business Students. Harlow: Pearson Siekierski, P., Lima, M.C. & Borini, F.M. 2018. International Mobility of Academics: Brain Drain and Brain Gain. European Management Review, 15(3), pp.329–339. Tikly , L. 2004. Education and the new imperialism. Comparative Education. 40(2), pp.173–198. Tikly, L. 2010. “Globalisation and Education in the Postcolonial World: Towards a Conceptual Framework.” Comparative Education. 37(2,), pp.151–171. [Accessed 18 Nov. 2019]. Verbik, L & Lasanowski, V. 2007. International Student Mobility: Patterns and Trends. The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education Verger, A. 2012. 'Framing and selling global education policy: the promotion of public–private partnerships for education in low-income contexts', Journal of Education Policy, 27(1), pp. 109-130. Walker, P. 2014. International Student Policies in UK Higher Education from Colonialism to the Coalition: Developments and Consequences. Journal of Studies in International Education. 18 (4) 325-344. Ziguras, C. & Gribble, C. 2015. Policy Responses to Address Student “Brain Drain”: An Assessment of Measures Intended to Reduce the Emigration of Singaporean International Students. Journal of Studies in International Education, 19(3), pp. 246–264.
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