Last year, at least 13,423 Nigerians studying in the United States contributed USD 514 Mn to the U.S. economy, and that’s according to official data.
With those figures, Nigeria is the country with the highest number of international students in the U.S. and, in fact, the only African country in the top 20 places of origin for international students in the U.S.
The data is contained in the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The report also indicates that Nigeria is the 11th leading place of origin for foreign students in the U.S. as of the 2018/2019 session.
Nigeria accounts for 1.2 percent of the total number of 1,095,299 international students in the country. A breakdown of the figure shows that 5,689 of the Nigerian students are at the undergraduate level, 5,274 at the graduate level, 367 at the non-degree students, and 2,093 on Optional Practical Training (OPT).
OPT refers to a period during which undergraduate and graduate students work for one year on a student visa toward acquiring practical training to complement their education.
On the other hand, the report shows that out of 341,751 U.S. citizens studying abroad in 2017/18, Nigeria hosted just 34, making the country 130th destination for American students.
For context, South Africa occupies the 11th position on that list as the country hosted 6,001 American students in 2017/18.
The UK, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, China, Australia, Costa Rica, and Japan were the top 10 study destinations for American citizens, hosting an average of 18,000 students each.
“We are happy to see the continued growth in the number of international students in the United States and U.S. students studying abroad,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
According to the report, international students account for 5.5 percent of the total U.S. higher education population. Citing data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the report said that foreign students contributed USD 44.7 Bn to the U.S. economy in 2018, an increase of 5.5 percent from the previous year.
When the number of Nigerians studying in the United States and their contributions to the U.S. economy are juxtaposed with the number of U.S citizens studying in Nigeria, it makes for gloomy reading.
The obvious discrepancy and gulf in class points to thousands of Nigerians paying millions of dollars for education in the United States while just a handful of Americans come to Nigeria for the same purpose.
This is made all the more baffling when it comes to mind that there are up to 170 universities in Nigeria, not to mention the number of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education in the country.
Featured Image Courtesy: USEmbassyInNigeria