Parents pick private universities on ASUU strike, dollar scarcity

The scarcity of foreign exchange, which has made foreign tuition fees more expensive, and the incessant strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are forcing more parents to opt for private universities.

In an interview with BusinessDay, Serena Marcus, a 16-year-old secondary school certificate holder said her parents now want to send her to Afe Babalola University, a private school in Ekiti State as FX scarcity scuttled the initial plan of studying abroad.

“The tuition is very expensive now. They would not be able to handle it because they are already paying for my older sister’s tuition fee who has been studying in Canada for about three years,” Marcus said.

Sandra Chukwuemeka, a parent, said her children who would have travelled to Europe to study computer science and aeronautic engineering cannot go again because of the worsening exchange rate.

According to her, the family has resolved to have the two children study for their first degrees in Nigeria then later go abroad for their Master’s degrees.

Many parents and guardians are turning to private universities to ensure that their children get the best education possible.

Read also: IYD: Youth group writes Buhari to resolve ASUU strike

On August 5, at the official market, the exchange rate between the naira and the US dollar closed at N430/$1, an increase of 23.95 percent from 327/$1 in March 2020.While at the parallel market, it closed at N670/$1, an increase of 45.07 percent from N368/$1 in March 2020.

According to a survey of the annual average tuition fees, from foreign education publications, Canada’s average fee is $22,500, followed by the United Kingdom ($31,380) and the United States ($34,200), depending on the university and the course.

By estimating the amount in naira, using the official market rate, Canada’s average tuition fee is N9.7 million, N13.5 million for the United Kingdom and N14.7 million for the US. This is many times costlier than many private universities whose average tuition fees are around N700, 000-N3million per session depending on the course.

The surge in FX has also affected the number of Nigerian students seeking admission into universities in the US.

Data from Institute of International Education show that it reduced to 12,860 in the 2020/21 session, its first decline in three years from 13,762 in the 2019/20 academic year.

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