The European Union on Monday announced that over 200 young Nigerians have received postgraduate scholarships to study in top European universities.
The scholarship, according to the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, is awarded under its flagship educational programme, Erasmus+.
Ms Isopi noted that this year’s figure “represents a steep increase from the number of Nigerians that benefited from the initiative last year.”
In the last four years, the number of recipients have continued to increase, rising from 44 awardees in 2019; 93 in 2020; 133 in 2021 to currently over 200 awardees in 2022.
The new record figure, many of whom are men, places Nigeria second among countries with the highest number of students selected for the programme in 2022 – coming only after Pakistan.
“From ninth position in 2020 and sixth in 2021, the country now has the second highest number of beneficiaries globally, leaving behind countries like Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Mexico in the top bracket of countries with most awards globally. Over 730 Nigerians have benefitted from the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree since 2004,” she noted.
Ms Isopi added that the increase in the number of award recipients reflects the premium the EU places on its partnership with Nigeria.
“The Erasmus+ programme is an example of the great cooperation we have with Nigeria, and reflects the EU’s commitment to widening the space and increasing opportunities for young Nigerians to actualise their dreams and play their role in contributing to the development of their country,” she said.
Eramus presents regular migration opportunities for ordinary Nigerians to travel abroad based on their capacity, their merit and abilities in their respective fields, she added.
The strictly merit-based award will see awardees traverse 20 different European countries. The minimum number of countries of mobility for each student is three, some of the courses will take the beneficiaries to as many as six different countries.
The studies will run for 12-24 months, after which each scholarship awardee will receive a masters degree to be jointly awarded by a consortium of universities.
Ms Isopi added that the EU Delegation to Nigeria is collaborating with Nigeria’s Ministry of Education to increase the number of Nigerian Higher Education Institutions that participate in these programmes.
The Erasmus programme was set up in 1987. Initially, it was aimed at creating exchanges of students between the European countries themselves. With the addition of the ‘Mundus’, it has been broadened in scope.
The flagship EU Erasmus+ programme represents one of the Europe’s most tangible achievements: uniting people and creating an European sense of belonging and solidarity, through life-changing learning experiences.
With the launch of a new Erasmus+ programme for the period 2021-2027, there is a further increase in the opportunities provided for mobility and cooperation with partner countries beyond Europe.
The new Erasmus+ programme has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion, nearly double the funding compared to its predecessor programme (2014-2020).
70 per cent of the budget will support mobility opportunities for students and staff of higher education institutions.
30 per cent of the budget will be invested in cooperation projects and policy development activities where organisations and higher education institutions can gain experience in international cooperation, strengthen their capacities, produce innovative approaches, exchange good practices and network.
Chiamaka Okafor is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.