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Nigeria’s Central Bank has loosened controls on foreign exchanges and from this month again is giving out increased amounts of foreign currency to specifically support students studying abroad in covering tuition fees and travel expenses.
In March 2016, to decrease downward pressures on Nigeria’s naira, partly fuelled by falling oil prices, restrictions on foreign exchanges had been introduced that included a ban on card withdraws abroad and significantly interjected transactions for payments of oversees studies. With official bank channels being blocked for students to pay tuition fees, many had to resort to acquire foreign funds on the open or black market, suffering from higher exchange rates and long processing times. Particularly affected were those students who exclusively drew their study funds from a Nigerian account. With the relaxed restrictions students may now apply for up to 15 000$/13800 EUR (or other foreign currency equivalent) per semester to cover tuition fees, under the condition they hold a valid admissions letter and invoice. Amounts requested must be directly payed to the receiving institution. Personal travel allowances now amount to 4000$ (or equivalent) and are given to students who require flights of minim five hours.
According to the UNESCO Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students, Nigeria has around 71 000 students studying abroad with the most favoured destination countries being the UK, neighbouring Ghana, and the United States.
A recent Campus France study shows emerging patterns in student mobility in Africa, and ascertains Nigeria as the top sending nation of the continent. With one in six students being mobile and the UK alone receiving almost 18 000 Nigerian students, a lack of foreign currency flows has not only negatively affected students in their study experience but international education markets by hampering the growth of outbound mobility flows.
Spilling out more foreign currency has stabilised students and their scholarship providers (often backed by oil/gas revenues) to meet financial study obligations in the short term. Fully mitigating negative effects, that currency restrictions have had in discouraging students from pursuing education abroad, will depend on the long term recovery of the Nigerian economy.Central Bank of Nigeria – Guidelines new Policy on PTA and School fees