By Stuart Rennie
In terms of global student mobility, by 2025 Nigeria will have the fastest growing population anywhere in the world in the 18 – 22 age bracket. This means that Nigeria will be a hugely important market for international educators, even more so than it is now.
Source: British Council 2025 Forecasting Data
The past year has been hugely challenging for Nigeria. We have seen the first democratically elected hand-over of power to an opposition party in African history. This has collided with the huge fall in the price of oil (to less than $50 a barrel) of which Nigeria has relied on and squandered for many years. The incoming Government has taken time to bed in; cabinet appointments and the budget were only finally passed in April 2016. As a result, the Nigeria economy has stalled and dipped into a recession, meaning restrictions have been put in place around Forex and remitting international currency out of Nigeria.
International student recruitment out of Nigeria globally has been impacted with some Universities and agents reporting drops of up to 30% in numbers. However, our clients and other universities have managed to keep their numbers constant and steady by continuing to support Nigeria, invest further in the market and show real commitment to the Scholarship Bodies, agents and other partners across the country.
The Buhari led Government is trying very hard to change the political direction in Nigeria and to diversify the economy with a strategic focus on the following areas:
- Infrastructure – Roads, Railways, Ports, Electricity
- Security and Insurgency
- Capital Markets
- Education – especially STEM subjects
- Economic Diversification
So, although Nigeria has experienced huge challenges over the past couple of years, the country is resilient and has overcome many similar situations over the years.
According to the BMI Research Group, Nigeria will return to growth in 2017 as oil prices rise and production picks up once more. With growth anticipated, international educators need to remain committed to the market, invest and develop an integrated strategy built on the following key areas:
- Diversified agent strategy with a portfolio of agents covering varying regions, specialisms and cities
- Developing links with the key Scholarship Bodies across Nigeria
- Working with Pathway Colleges and Private Universities across Nigeria to develop partnership and progression agreements
- Working with the Corporates and Professional Bodies to develop new networks
- Ensuring that your brand presence continues through representation at relevant exhibitions and trade fairs
- Visiting the country at least three to four times per year and having an on-the-ground presence throughout the year
- Ensuring that all activity is not just focused on the main cities of Abuja and Lagos but getting out to second and third tier cities such as Ibadan, Enugu, Jos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Uyo and Warri
- Developing courses and offerings that can include internships, work placements and potential post study work opportunities
- Developing an integrated alumni strategy for Nigeria
Nigeria has huge capacity issues in Higher education and this means that for the foreseeable future, Nigerian students will be looking for study options outside of the country, however it is now a very competitive landscape with competition not just between the UK and US but increasingly so from Canada, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Ghana and the Middle East. This means that for student recruiters to be successful in the Nigeria market they also need to ensure they have a well though out conversion strategy which must be fully integrated and driven by:
- Comprehensive data capture
- A strong and integrated CRM system
- A well-designed and user friendly website
- Follow-up and conversion strategies from enquiry – application – offer – enrolment – alumni
Stuart Rennie is the Managing Director of SJRennie Consulting Ltd a leading Educational Consultancy company specialising in West Africa. For more insight from Stuart, visit www.sjrconsulting.co.uk or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.