Nigeria - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-03-29

Capital:  Abuja

Population:  219.5 million (July 2021 est.)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity): $1.01 trillion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  Nigerian Naira (NGN)

Language:  English

 

UNESCO Student Mobility Number

Nigeria has 71,133 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

 

CIA World Factbook

61.97% of the population in Nigeria is under 25 years old.

 

OVERVIEW

Nigeria has an estimated population of 219,463,862 people with an estimated growth rate of 2.53%. Nigeria’s population is expected to explode to around 392 million in the year 2050, projecting it to be the world’s 4th most populous country, thus creating a larger pool of education prospects for US HEIs.

Nigeria is Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy and relies heavily on oil as its main source of foreign exchange earnings and government revenue. Following the 2008-09 global financial crises, the banking sector was effectively recapitalized, and regulation enhanced. Since then, Nigeria’s economic growth has been driven by agriculture, telecommunications, and services. Economic diversification and strong growth have however not translated into a significant decline in poverty levels, as over 62% of Nigeria’s population still live in extreme poverty.

The country is currently grappling with an economic downturn, which has seen more protectionist policies developed by the government, and stricter financial policies implemented to shore up the foreign exchange reserves. According to data from the World Bank, Nigeria had a negative GDP growth rate of -1.79% and a GDP Per Capita of $2,097.09 in 2020, with inflation at 15.99% (Oct. 2021).

Nigeria has one of the larger telecom markets in Africa, with most Internet connections being available via mobile networks. There are currently over 184 million mobile users in Nigeria, with 88.18 out of every 100 inhabitants having access to the internet, which creates a market for distance/virtual learning.

Nigeria has seen a booming middle and elite class who value quality education, have international exposure, specific educational preferences, a higher disposable income, and general affluence - some of which drives the thirst for international education.

Nigeria currently ranks 10th on the International Student Leading Place of Origin. Of the 71,133 Nigerian students studying abroad, 12,860 are studying in the U.S., which represents a 6.6% decrease in enrollment numbers from the previous academic year.

Nigerian students have a strong focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM), which leads to many students in both the undergraduate and postgraduate categories enrolling in courses such as Engineering, Mathematics, Health professions, etc. Arts (Fine/Applied), Social Sciences and other related courses remain a developing sector in Nigeria, with less than 20% enrollment ratios. Nigeria also has a high sports focus for physical, emotional, social, and psychological development, with several U.S. HEI’s having participated in sports recruitment programs to identify and recruit top talent.

The United States Consulate in Nigeria awarded scholarships worth $4.35 million to 30 Nigerian students in the 2021/2022 academic session. Students using EducationUSA Nigeria services recorded $28 million in scholarship and financial aid awarded for the 2021 academic year.

Nigeria is an English-speaking country, having been colonized by the United Kingdom, and as such it has one of the lowest intake rates for Intensive English/English Preparatory courses in the U.S. English proficiency tests, SATs, GMATs, etc. are taught and administered locally and sometimes form a pre-requisite to obtaining admission from international schools, though most times admissions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if certain requirements can be waived.

Certification from the West African Examination Council (WAEC), a test management body approved by West African members states, is accepted globally as a test of student proficiency. English and Mathematics are compulsory subjects to be written by each student regardless of their academic inclinations, (e.g., Science, Arts). Educational transcripts from Nigeria can also be verified through the World Education Services (WES), and other such bodies, should the need arise for education and employment purposes in the U.S.

Generally, Nigerian schools operate a K – 12th grade model with boarding options, most of which are co-ed. Though there are several faith-based schools in Nigeria, many parents prefer to send their children to co-ed schools for social and network development.

The three best prospect cities for education recruitment in Nigeria are Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, with many affluent families and top-ranking high schools situated in those states.

Nigeria has 49 Federal Universities, 54 State Universities and 99 Private Universities, according to the National Universities Commission | (nuc.edu.ng), Nigeria’s Higher Education (university) regulator. The country also has 12 approved distance learning centers.

 

SUB-SECTORS

Top Areas of Study for Nigerian Students

Major Field of Specialization

2020/2021

Business and Management

9.7%

Education

0.7%

Engineering

19.0%

Fine and Applied Arts 

1.2%

Health Professions

6.2%

Humanities

0.9%

Intensive English

0.1%

Math/Computer Science

29.4%

Physical and Life Sciences

21.9%

Social Sciences

4.7%

Other Fields of Study

5.5%

Undeclared

0.8%

Table 2: Percentage of students in different fields of specialization. (Source: https://opendoorsdata.org/data/international-students/fields-of-study-by-place-of-origin/)

 

OPPORTUNITIES

Large Prospect Pool (Undergraduate, Graduate, Non-degree, Community Colleges):  There are over 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education: universities (49 federal universities, 54 state universities, and 99 private universities), polytechnics, specialized technology

Academic Level

Number of Students

% Change

UNDERGRADUATE

4,827

-10.3%

GRADUATE

5,350

-3.9%

NON-DEGREE

224

-3.9%

OPT

2,459

-4.8%

Table 1: Levels of study vs no. of students (Source: https://opendoorsdata.org/data/international-students/academic-level-and-places-of-origin/)

colleges, colleges of education, public and private high schools, and faith-based schools, which provides a large pool of talent and ready source of students with high interest across all education sub-sectors of U.S. study.

Specialized Trainings, Skill Development and Empowerment Initiatives:  Education franchises, professional and industry specific training to support services (Power Generation/Distribution, Oil & Gas, Financial services, ICT, Coding & Robotics, Entrepreneurship Development programs), as well as local content initiatives have a lot of potential in Nigeria. There is significant demand for continuing education for Nigerian professionals and academics, which make this a sub-sector best prospect. The provision of electronic content for online and distance learning is also growing rapidly. Given challenges with visa approvals for some international students, increasing access to the internet, and the rising cost of foreign exchange, online/distance learning is fast becoming an option that can be explored.

Infrastructure Development:  Given the poor state of educational facilities in Nigeria, there is a rapid growth in private investment in education (building design and construction), laboratory equipment, books, and professional textbooks that continues to gain market position.

Best Prospects:

  • Four-year universities/colleges with top choice programs:
    • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
    • Business Management
  • Community Colleges – growing sectors
  • High Schools/Boarding Schools – growing sectors

 

DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES

Given increased access to internet connectivity (high/moderate upload and download speeds), prospective study abroad students from Nigeria access information about courses of study, institutions, tuition fees, etc. via generic searches on search engines over the internet. The most common search engine used in Nigeria is Google, where everything from learning to cook, to driving a car, to finding a job, searching businesses, etc. can be found. YouTube is also popular for video streaming, where educational and non-educational videos are uploaded for likes and comments from users.

Nigerian students have also become very social media savvy, with most having several accounts on popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, etc., where they engage with international admission officers from U.S. HEIs and other institutions.

Outside of the conventional means of accessing education related information, prospective students and parents engage in the services of education agents/travel agencies who have relationships with international education service providers or organize summer camp trips to destinations, such as the United States.

Doing business in Nigeria is also largely relationship based with industry associations, multilateral agencies, business management organizations, etc., as they use their networks to disseminate information through mass mail campaigns, mass SMS campaigns, newspaper inserts, billboard/advert placements, radio adverts, television adverts, social media influencers, etc.

In engaging with prospective partners within Nigeria, the following steps are suggested:

  • Be upfront on agent commissions
  • Adopt a hybrid model of providing learning (given visa constraints)
  • Identify a credible local partner
  • Establish close relationship with alumni who wield influence in respective markets – word of mouth referrals are the most effective means of publicity
  • Adopt a strong social media presence
  • Tailor content to different audiences
  • Judge admissions based on merit – restrictive/blanket admission requirements can be a turn off to prospective students, especially as it pertains to English language proficiency and testing

 

EVENTS

Virtual Education Fairs – Dates to be confirmed

 

RESOURCES

 

U.S. COMMERCIAL SERVICE CONTACT

Chidinma Akaniro, Commercial Assistant

U.S. Commercial Service – Lagos, Nigeria

Phone: +234 1 460 3826

Email: Chidinma.Akaniro@trade.gov