The United States government says it has helped 140 Nigerian students gain scholarships to attend American colleges and universities.
The U.S. acting deputy chief of mission, Aruna Amirthanayagam, said this on Friday at a press briefing on pre-departure orientation for the latest beneficiaries of the Education USA programme.
He said the programme provides clear and authoritative information on USA undergraduate, graduate and post graduate academic programmes.
“Our advising centres both in Lagos and Abuja assist high achieving, low income students to apply to US colleges that will offer admission with full scholarships,” he said.
Mr. Amirthanayagam said the programme removes the financial barrier to study in the U.S. for some of Nigeria’s most talented students.
“Seventeen students out of 140 are beneficiary of Opportunity Funds programme while some are partially funded”.
“Nigeria continues to be the undisputed leader in Africa sending more international students to the United States than any other continent, ranking 14 among countries worldwide,” he stated
The advisor of EducationUSA, Malate Atagiri, said the the scholarship programme has the objective to build the next generation of leaders in Nigeria.
She said 11,000 students are staying in US and “most of them are on financial aid” .
“The total funds spent on scholarship is $57,437 and the total scholarship received is $1,543,500,” she disclosed.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES described it as a life time opportunity that would give them room to impart knowledge on the society.
Akeem Ajibola, a 23-year-old graduate of Civil Engineering from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, who received scholarship for Ph.D programme at Auburn University, said it is an opportunity to establish a research centre on artifacts and technology.
“Nigeria will be able to conduct her own research with local materials rather than consulting foreign research institutes,” Mr Ajibola said.
“Nigerians have good doctors but lack good policy and management,” Zaidat Ibrahim, one of the beneficiaries who just concluded her graduate study in Biochemistry, told PREMIUM TIMES.
She said the World Health Organisations and United Nations Children Emergency Fund, UNICEF, who define health policies, do not engage people from Africa, stating that the programme is a way of solving health issues.
“U.S. has quality education and the degree is recognised globally so I am combining these two fields to provide efficient health care services for NIgeria,” Kevin Ifiorah, a beneficiary who finished from Government Secondary School, Karu and got a scholarship to study Biomedical Engineering in Vanderbilt University, said.
One of the EducationUS advisors, Folashade Adebayo, told PREMIUM TIMES that the U.S. government does not partner with any country, organisations or individuals on the scholarship scheme.
“The method of selecting these 140 student is transparent, we approached NYSC orientation camps and some of them applied. We also wrote to secondary school principals and they send the list of recommended students to us and the process begins.
“These students stayed with us for one year, during which they write their exams and we advise them accordingly, it is a one year process.” she said
She said the interview process for 2018 scholarship programme will commence on the July 26 and end on the 28 July 2017
“500 undergraduates and about 1000 graduates applied for the 2018 scholarship programme,” she disclosed
EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network of over 400 international advising centres in more than 170 countries.
It is a branch of the Office of Global Educational Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
EducationUSA network promotes U.S. higher education to millions of students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited post-secondary institutions in the United States, it states.
The centres are located in U.S. embassies and consulates, American Spaces, Fulbright commissions, bi-national centres, universities, and non-profit organisations.