99,985 Nigerian students left for UK varsities in 5 years — Tunji-Ojo

By Babatunde Tiamiyu

The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo says statistics indicate that no fewer than 99,985 Nigerian students left the country to enrol in universities in the United Kingdom between 2017 and 2022.

The minister disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the 2023 University of Lagos International Week on Monday, in Lagos.

The theme of the international week is ‘Breaking the Borders of Partnership’. “Every year, over 100 Nigerian students benefit from the scholarship for postgraduate and PhD degrees, I speak from students personally; we have hundreds of professionals and entrepreneurs leaving our shores to break new grounds across our lands.

“And on our part, we must ensure that we play our part in the actualisation of their dreams. They carry our identity, one which not only aids their pursuit, but also defines them.”

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), reports have shown that about 99,985 Nigerian students left this country to enrol in universities in the United Kingdom between 2017 and 2022.

“While many may contend that majority of these students have simply ‘JAPA’ for other reasons, we cannot also deny the fact that a larger chunk of these students have left with the purest of intent to seek further knowledge for self-advancement.

“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 it.

“Their pursuit of breaking new grounds across borders, is one which gives us great joy as through our children, we sustain the future,” he said.

The minister said the ministry had commenced the automation of end-to-end passport application process, and had given a timeline from which Nigerians would begin to experience the “sweet experience.

“By implication, Nigerians will not need to wait longer than two weeks before they get their passport.

“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 passport delivered to their homes, offices and other locations of their choice,” he stated.

According to him, this will also be extended to the visa application process, with technology deployed throughout the entire process, to make it as seamless as possible.

The minister said to achieve this, his office had set everything into motion to open 12 more visa application centres across the world.

“In this regard, we are also working on strengthening our visa- on-arrival policy.

“We are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enforce the principle of reciprocity and a committee has been set up in the ministry to achieve this,” he said.

Tunji-Ojo noted that the theme of the event reminded citizens that the challenges faced as a people were not confined by geographical boundaries.

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