By NBF News
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If wishes were horses, many young Nigerians would grow wings and fly to western universities to study. In a country where essential facilities are lacking in public universities, and lecturers embark on strike to get an enhanced remuneration, nothing seems more attractive than studying abroad. No doubt, there has been a remarkable increase in students' migration to universities in the United Kingdom, America, Canada, Germany and Russia over the years.

The Deputy High Commissioner of Canada, Jean Gauthier, told Daily Sun that an estimated 2,000 Nigerian students travel to Canada every year to study. Also, the Country Director, British Council, David Higgs gave a similar revelation when he said that about 16,000 Nigerian students are presenting studying in different universities in the United Kingdom.

This increasing number of students' immigrants is not to be compared with other despondent colleagues whose aspiration for cross-border education could not be fulfilled due to financial constraints and denial of traveling documents.

The recent Canadian Education Fair in Lagos was a golden moment for most students, as representatives of top-rated institutions brought admission to their doorsteps. At the three-day event held at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, representatives of 45 Canadian academic institutions rolled out their programmes, against the 23 participants of last year.

Some of the participants, who spoke with our reporter, said the increased response from Nigeria students has made the nation one of the biggest education markets in the world. The Canadian High Commissioner, Chris Cooter, said prospective students from all over the world are increasingly turning to Canadian education, as they recognize its growing value for success at home and globally. '…They see that, within Canada, our education system has produced a leading, knowledge-based economy, one that continues to invest in innovation. They also see that, through its education products and services, Canada is making a significant contribution to meeting global skills needs, with a particular emphasis on emerging countries such as Nigeria,' he said.

According to Cooter, Canada has top-quality universities and colleges with excellent international reputations, backed by a strong commitment of government and society.

He said these academic institutions, mostly funded by the government, provide world leadership in accessibility and flexibility for students through e-learning, multimedia, interactive and web-based education materials.

Aside the quality of learning in Canadian institutions, such services are provided at a very competitive cost. It was gathered that the comparative costs of studying in Canada appeared cheaper when compared with countries like Australia, United Kingdom and the United States.

The Executive Director of Recruitment and Enrolment, Upper Canada College, Struan Robertson, told our reporter that Canadian institutions are ranked in the top three worldwide every year, despite the fact that the government directly funds them.

'The government funds most of the universities and vocational colleges. They are tax-based. Really, public institutions are very good in Canada because they are well-funded by the government. So, there has been a consistent quality. Canadian education system is ranked in the top three worldwide every year. So, in coming to Canada, you are guaranteed of a very consistent level of quality.

'The funding over there is fairly consistent. We have in Canada private institution. We are an independent high school. We don't receive government funding. We therefore are also the most expensive because we have to charge our students what it costs to operate a good school,' he explained.

Robertson said public universities are more in number than private ones, while the fees of private institutions are also higher. 'Private institutions are new phenomenon in Canada. They are very few. They are just beginning. I can't even name them because they are so new.

The concept of a private university is relatively new in Canada. For a Nigerian to come and live in our residence is over $50,000 in a year. There are smaller institutions that are much cheaper but we are trying to provide the best quality education possible at a level that will be difficult for public institutions or government-funded institutions to compete with. Not every Canadian can afford our school, so not every Nigerian can afford coming to our school,' he said.

He said the college offers needs-based financial assistance, but does not award full study scholarship to students. 'We don't give scholarship based on merit. If you are a strong applicant and you qualify for assistance, we have bursaries, sometimes up to 50 per cent,' he said. Robertson said students in vocational colleges or other universities could be allowed to work 20 hours per week if they want study and work plan. He said prospects of employment also abound, as students who graduate from their programme, would have the opportunity to work in that field for up to three years.

One of the students at the event, Jacqueline Umeh, an SSS3 student of Holy Child College,Obalenda said she wants to go to Canada to get the best of education.

'I want to study Human Resources Management. I want to study abroad because a lot of courses I like personally are not taken seriously in Nigeria, courses like Psychology, Human Resource Management are not taken seriously.