Nigerian students are increasingly seeking to study in the United States of America and the number hit an all-time high during the academic session of 2021/2022.
This is according to the latest historical data from New York-headquartered OpenDoors, an Institute of International Education report on international students and scholars, which show that 14, 438 Nigerian students enrolled to study in various universities and colleges across the United States of America during the 2021/2022 academic session. Although this is 1.5 per cent of the total number of international students in the USA for the same year it is the highest number of Nigerian students enrolling to study in the USA in the last 13 years.
This also means the number of Nigerian students going to study in the USA has returned to pre-pandemic levels. This number was 13, 762 students in the 2019/2020 academic session and 12, 860 students during the 2020/2021 academic session.
According to the 2021 Open Doors report, the top five U.S. institutions with the largest student population of Nigerian descent (in no particular order) are Texas Southern University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of North Texas, and Houston Community College.
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Enobong Udofia, a drilling and wells engineer living in Houston Texas attributes this to the oil and gas connection between Texas and Nigeria. Nigeria is a big producer of oil, and most of the world’s biggest oil operators and service companies are headquartered in Texas, mostly Houston. Most of these companies also operate in Nigeria, so it was only a matter of time before Nigerians started coming to Houston for training, studying for oil and gas-related degrees in nearby College Station, or intra-company cross-postings.
“I bet some Nigerians that came to study in Houston stayed back after their studies, raised their families here, invited more of their friends and relatives over, who would also eventually get to raise their families in Houston,” Udofia said in Quora post.
For the 14, 438 Nigerian students who started studying in the USA during the 2021/22 academic session, there are both public and private institutions in the United States, and the main cost of higher education is tuition.
Tuition at public or state universities is less expensive than at private universities. The cost of higher education will also vary depending on the degree sought and the school attended. The approximate cost of tuition and living expenses for international students attending US universities is between $25,000 and $45,000 per year.
Taking an average of the two figures, this is $21, 375, 000. When multiplied by the number of Nigerian students, 14, 438; the product is $308.612 billion. This means Nigerian students contributed $308.612 billion on average to the US economy during the 2021/22 academic session.
Also, at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s official exchange rate of N450/$, it means that a Nigerian student studying in the USA spends between N11, 250, 000 – N20, 250, 000 per year.
The number of Nigerian students going to study in the USA has grown steadily since 2001/02 from 4, 499 to 6, 192 in 2005/06, a period of five years. But fell to 5, 943 in 2006/07 before rising to 6, 222 in 2007/08. Growth in the number of Nigerian students has remained steady touching the 10, 674 in 2015/16.