After more than 200 unsuccessful job applications on LinkedIn alone, Nigerian student Modupe Osunkoya knew time was running out for her to extend her stay in Belgium. With three months left on her student visa, she either had to get a job or leave the country. But there was another option – enrolling for her third post-graduate degree since leaving Nigeria in 2017.”I never saw myself doing a PhD but if I go home now, there is no job waiting for me,” the 28-year-old told the BBC. High unemployment – one in three young people are without work – and comparatively poor living conditions mean many of Nigeria’s brightest would rather take their chances abroad than return home. So last year Ms Osunkoya enrolled for a doctorate degree in Estonia which is running concurrently with her second Master’s degree in Belgium. She settled for Estonia after receiving no job or PhD offers in Belgium.”The studies are [a] means to an end, and if God says the end is a permanent residency, why not?” she said. Her PhD in Future Cities at the Tallinn University of Technology is a paid position. At the end of the four-year course she can apply for permanent residency. She is planning to relocate to the eastern European country for the course, which like those in Belgium, is taught in English. Ms Osunkoya is just one of many Nigerian students from families who are not part of the super wealthy elite to study overseas. Last year, around 100,000 Nigerians travelled abroad to study, according to ICEF Monitor, which focuses on international student mobility. Many hope to become permanent residents of their host country, and take one step at a time to achieve their goal. Foluwakemi, (not her real name) another Nigerian student in Belgium, said: “People complete a Master’s degree, go back to do some advanced diploma below their academic level, then some cheap certificate, all in a bid to remain legal in the system.”Despite getting a degree in economics in Nigeria, she decided to start from scratch when she arrived in Belgium, finishing a three-year course in business management – to buy herself time – and then proceeding to a two-year Master’s degree course in management. She has not ruled out the possibility of a second Master’s degree and a PhD if she is unable to find work that will open the way for her to get a permanent visa.”I am an African studying African studies in Belgium and it makes me mad,” said a third student, Ifeoma, (also not her real name) who is currently doing her second Master’s degree since arriving in the country in 2019.”I am not taking it seriously, just killing time [while I] decide on what to do,” she added. Tuition fees as low as 1,000 euros ($1,200; £850) per year and the relatively low cost of living for students in Belgium, compared to some other European countries, have made it an attractive destination for many Nigerians from average-income backgrounds.
All data is taken from the source:
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