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EU Awards Postgraduate Scholarships To 135 Young Nigerians

The figure places Nigeria on the number one spot among beneficiaries of the EU postgraduate scholarships in Africa in the past five years, and among the top five globally.

The European Union has offered postgraduate scholarships to 135  young Nigerians in top European universities, under its flagship educational programme, Erasmus+. 

At a press briefing in Abuja on Monday, the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Samuela Isopi, said the figure places Nigeria on the number one spot among beneficiaries of the EU postgraduate scholarships in Africa in the past five years, and among the top five globally.

In recent years, the EU has been ramping up support to the academia through the EU’s key funding programmes: Erasmus+ in the higher education sector, and Horizon Europe for research and innovation. 

Erasmus+ offers many opportunities apart from its flagship scholarship programmes: it supports mobility and short stays in Europe for researchers, students and staff, capacity-building of universities and TVET institutions through joint projects with sister European institutions, etc. Horizon Europe offers opportunities for Nigeria-based researchers and research institutions, in particular through the “Africa Initiative II”, which is addressed to African scientists.

Isopi revealed that the EU Delegation to Nigeria will host a “Study in Europe Fair” in Nigeria’s two biggest cities of Lagos (October 28) and Kano (October 26) to enable prospective Nigerian students to explore the opportunities of higher education in Europe, noting that the events will also serve as a platform to match-make Nigerian higher education institutions with potential EU partners, in collaboration with the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States in the country. 

She explained that the Study Fairs, which will be open to the public, will also provide opportunities for exchange of experiences and information, and for networking for Nigerian students, academics, parents and professionals who are actively interested in studying in Europe.

According to her, the 135 Nigerian EMJMD awardees are in the initial batch of beneficiaries, as announced by the organisers of the programme in Brussels. The number is likely to increase. Most of awardees will start their Erasmus plus journey in September 2023. Ahead of that, the EU Delegation will host a pre-departure orientation for the awardees on Wednesday, July 19 2023.

The postgraduate programmes will run for 12-24 months, and will see each beneficiary studying in universities in at least three different universities in as many countries during the duration of the programme. Each scholarship recipient will, on successful completion of the programme, receive a master degree to be jointly awarded by a consortium of universities, in the framework of the EMJMD programme – a key component of Erasmus+.

The students were selected from over 15,000 applications through a very competitive selection procedure coordinated by the participating consortia of universities. The applications are open to candidates from all parts of the world. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) programmes are high-level integrated study programmes, delivered by an international partnership of higher education institutions.

The EU’s support for education in Nigeria aligns to national objectives and focuses on equitable access to quality education and teacher training. The EU works with the governments of Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Oyo, Katsina, Enugu and Plateau states. The projects aim at strengthening the education system, increase the use of digital technology for teaching, learning and system management, and mainstream green skills and knowledge by investing EUR 45.4 million, in total during, 2021-2027 in the education projects.

Erasmus+ is the European Union’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2021–2027. It offers a range of opportunities for higher education students, staff and institutions from around the world, both for individuals and for organisations. In addition Erasmus + offers international opportunities in the fields of youth, vocational education and training, and sport. Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation.

Erasmus+ provides opportunities in higher education and TVET:

525 Nigerian students, researchers and staff have benefited from short-term mobility to Europe. 172 students and staff from Europe have moved to Nigeria (2014-2021). Between 2022-2024, 221 Nigerian students and staff will visit European universities in 17 countries. 23 Nigerian universities will host around 87 Europeans.

672 Nigerian students have been awarded Erasmus Mundus joint master’s and PhD scholarships (2014 – 2022).

Three Nigerian universities have been associated partners in Erasmus Mundus joint master’s (2016-2020). The Federal University of Technology, MINNA is involved as associate in one project selected in 2022.

13 Nigerian universities participated in Erasmus+ Capacity Building for Higher Education (CBHE) projects (2014 – 2022). Some of these projects aimed to develop programmes to improve graduate skills in major areas for the country’s development and for tackling sustainability challenges.

Nigeria participates in seven Capacity Building for VET (CBVET) projects selected in 2022, focused on entrepreneurship and green and digital skills.

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Programmes is a key component of Erasmus+. It offers innovative cross-border programmes – crossing geographic and thematic borders. They bring together niche expertise from many of Europe’s leading universities in different countries. The programmes also cross the academic borders between faculties and departments. Targeted sets of inter-disciplinary skills that set the scholarship holder up for a career as a practitioner, a researcher, or a decision-maker in the chosen field are strived after.

The EU Erasmus programme has a multi-country aspect. The study path will take the awardee to two three or more countries, and there is a wide spread of countries among the first host countries. Most programmes are in the European Union, but some students are starting in non-EU countries such as Turkey, Serbia and the UK. Others might go to other third countries for their second mobility session, among others.Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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