Three government-run university scholarships Nigerian students can apply for

University of Lagos {UNILAG STUDENTS)
UNILAG STUDENTS [photo credit:]

The federal government runs only three higher education scholarship schemes in Nigeria, the agency administering them has stated.

According to the Nigerian Scholarship Board (NSB), the three scholarship schemes it runs for Nigerians are the Bilateral Education Agreement Awards, Nigerian Awards and Commonwealth Awards.

Although there are many other scholarship schemes in the country through the private and public sectors, many Nigerians believe that the federal government is not doing enough to help its citizens withe the burden of tertiary education.

The NSB explains the processes for the three schemes that it runs as follows:

1. Bilateral Education Agreement Awards (BEA)

The Nigerian government runs this scheme in agreement with 12 countries, namely: Algeria, China, Cuba, Egypt, Hungary, Morocco, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Candidates for the BEA are selected on merit by the board from across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory through an examination conducted in collaboration with the state government officials.

Mode of examination

The Joint Admission Matriculation Board is in charge of conducting the computer-based examination for the BEA awards. The board releases the results indicating the candidates’ states of origin and performance. The NSB then presents a data from which the donor countries pick the beneficiaries.

Call for Applications

Applications for the awards open in December and closes at the end of January. Candidates are allowed to choose two countries.


An applicant must possess five distinctions in school certificate examination or general certificate of education at one sitting, including in Mathematics and English. FSB, however, said this process is being reviewed due to many Nigerian students not passing English and Mathematics with distinction.

The applicant cannot write the scholarship examination an independent candidate, but in the school attended by the applicant and at first attempt.

The O’Level certificate of an applicant should not be more than two years old. However, some countries prefer the O’Level not exceeding one year.

Mode of teaching

All the countries except Hungary teach in the language of their countries. It is thus mandatory for the beneficiary to learn the language for a year before proceeding with the professional course. Also the course the candidate will be given depends solely on performance of the language test.

Benefits from awarding countries

The countries pay the school fees, provide accommodation, give stipend and place the students on health insurance.

Benefit from Nigerian government

According to the FSB, the Nigerian government gives each of the students $500, warm clothings and health insurance worth about $6000 a year.

Undergraduates are given take off grants of N60,000. The government also sends return tickets back to Nigeria to the beneficiaries at the end of their programmes.

An applicant must not be less than 18 years of age and not above 20 years for undergraduates.

According to the FSB, there were 720 beneficiaries last year, some of whom have graduated.

Candidates can visit, then click on Federal Scholarship Board and click on any award of their choice.

2. The Nigerian award

This is the award the federal government designed for Nigerians according to their states of origin but they are not given at entry level.


The students can only apply after completing 100 level or Part One with a CGPA of 4.0 on a scale of 5. That is, each candidate must score 80 percent average score in all the subjects. When the beneficiary’s CGPA drops from 80 percent, the candidate forfeits the scholarship automatically. But if the CGPA is maintained, the federal government sponsors the candidate till graduation.


The age limit for undergraduates is 20 years . The candidates will not be selected if they are below 18 years. The maximum age for post graduate studies is 35 years while the age limit for doctorate degree is 40 years.


HND\NCE beneficiaries receive N100,000 per academic session. Undergraduates candidates receive N150,000 per session. Post-graduate beneficiaries receive N180,000 per session.

The FSB said about 3000 Nigerians are beneficiaries of the Nigerian Awards yearly.

Call for application

The site opens in December and closes in March.

Candidates can visit, then click on federal scholarship board and click on any award of choice.

3. Commonwealth Awards

The FSB said the applicant can only fill the form on the federal scholarship website when the Commonwealth secretariat demands the opening of the website. The Commonwealth countries Britain and countries that were its former colonies. They all use English as official language.

The secretary of the board, Fatima Ahmad, said selection for the awards is done through the FSB but the Commonwealth sponsors everything.


The scholars are fully sponsored (Nigeria government does not pay anything).

Call for Application

The application opens in December and is concluded in March.

The board said only 17 people received the scholarship in 2017.


Commonwealth Awards is for postgraduates and doctorate degree applicants only.

Applicants must possess Second Class Upper to apply for the post-graduate studies.

For doctorate degree, a candidate must possess a 2-1 at B.Sc level and a 2-1 at Masters level.

But a 2-2 at B.Sc level with a first class in M.Sc level can also apply.

Candidates can visit, then click on federal scholarship board and click on any award of choice.

Regardless of the anticipated impact of these scholarships, they have not been without their concerns, including issues of inadequate technology of identification and students being stranded abroad, among others.

While speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, Secretary of FSB, Mrs. Ahmad, said one of the problems with the Nigerian awards is the lack of a strong system of identifying indigenes of a particular state.

Mrs. Ahmad said the Nigerian awards covers all the 36 states including the FCT, noting that the scholarship is meant for brilliant and diligent students.

She said the only thing the Nigerian government does for the Commonwealth awards is conduct interaction with scholars in the education sector in order to select the best of the applicants.

According to the FSB boss, the interaction with professors in their related fields is like an oral interview .

“In most cases, we don’t know who is admitted, we only nominate, do the selection, send the people and then the Commonwealth Secretariat conducts another interview and select them. The Commonwealth sends us a copy of letters of those admitted but the students don’t come back (to FSB) because we don’t give them anything, “ she said.

She said there are other countries that inform the board of an ongoing scholarship for which applicants can apply directly.

“But our duty to these scholarships is to stamp and endorse their forms with the correct credentials, we crosschecks all the details before endorsing it.”

Mrs. Ahmad said the board also gives the applicant a letter that their form is at ‘no cost’ because the government is not directly involved in it.

On the issue of Nigerian students stranded abroad, the secretary said it is being resolved as the fund required was included in the 2018 budget proposal.

She said the issue emanated when the Attorney-General of the Federation told the then Education Trust Fund now TETFUND that sponsoring students who are not lecturers on scholarship is an infringement on the law establishing them.

“For the PRESSID scholarship, students studying engineering, oil and gas were sponsored by PTDF, students for ICT were sponsored by NITDA while the remaining students were sponsored by ETF, which they funded till 2013 but TETfund had to stop on the advice of the Attorney-General. The present INEC chairman was the executive secretary of TETfund , it was NUC (National Universities Commission) that was managing and NUC does not generate funds so they were stuck with the people,” she explained.

According to Mrs. Ahmad, the issue came to the attention of the Minister of Education in 2016 and he requested that the scholarship be transferred to FSB in order to resolve the issue.

She said the issue was transferred officially to the board in July 2017, noting that the debts for the past years and this year were in the 2018 budget proposal.

“Our focus is to clear the past debts and the present ones, until those ones outside the country graduate. It is in the 2018 budget proposal and the legislators are aware of it and are willing to help clear the debt. So we have had NUC to transfer to us because we cannot ask TETfund to continue, it is illegal. There are other batches to clear their debts too, but we will settle the ones outside the country first because it is embarrassing,” she concluded.

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