The European Union has offered postgraduate scholarships to over 200 young Nigerians in top European universities, under its flagship educational programme, Erasmus+. The figure represents a steep increase from the number of Nigerians that benefited from the initiative last year. It also places Nigeria second among countries with the highest number of students selected for the prestigious programme in 2022 – coming only after Pakistan.
Each scholarship awardee will, on successful completion of the programme, receive a masters degree to be jointly awarded by a consortium of universities, in the framework of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters programme – a key component of Erasmus+. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters are high-level and integrated study programmes at master level, delivered by an international partnership of higher education institutions.
The studies 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. At least two of the countries where each student will study are EU Member States. Many of the scholarship awardees have already departed for Europe to commence their studies. The beneficiaries were selected through a rigorous, highly competitive process and from various academic disciplines.
The number of Nigerians selected for the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree Scholarships has quadrupled in the last four years, rising from 44 awardees in 2019; 93 in 2020; 133 in 2021 to the record number of over 200 awardees in 2022. From ninth position in 2020 and sixth in 2021, the country now has the second highest number of beneficiaries globally, leaving behind countries like Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Mexico in the top bracket of countries with most awardees globally. Over 730 Nigerians have benefitted from the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree since 2004.
Announcing the latest scholarships at a press briefing in Abuja on Monday, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Samuela Isopi, said the steep rise in the number of Nigerians benefiting from the programme in recent years reflects the premium the EU places on its partnership with the country. It also reaffirms the EU’s commitment to ramping up programmes and activities targeting Nigeria’s vibrant young people.
“The Erasmus+ programme is an example of the great cooperation we have with Nigeria, and reflects the EU’s commitment to widening the space and increasing opportunities for young Nigerians to actualise their dreams and play their role in contributing to the development of their country,” Ambassador Isopi said. According to her, the gesture exemplifies regular migration opportunities for ordinary Nigerians to travel abroad based on their capacity, their merit and abilities in their respective fields.
This year, the scholarship beneficiaries will traverse 20 different European countries. While the minimum number of counties of mobility for each student is three, some of the courses will take the beneficiaries to as many as six different countries. The Erasmus programme will enable the awardees to interact and exchange ideas with other students from different countries across the world.
The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree is a life-changing experience, boosting opportunities for young Nigerians in within the country and abroad. The programme is built on the belief that the cultural exchange and education of youth is fundamental for the socio-economic development of societies as a whole. Besides the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters, Erasmus+ also provides opportunities for mobility and cooperation with partner countries beyond Europe.
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The Erasmus programme supports cooperation projects and policy development activities where organisations and higher education institutions can gain experience in international cooperation, strengthen their capacities, produce innovative approaches, exchange good practices and network.
“With the increased number of opportunities, I hope that in the coming years, even more Nigerian students and Higher Education Institutions can benefit from this programme,” Ambassador Isopi stated. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Programme is open to applicants worldwide, and scholarships are offered to the best-ranked applicants from all over the world.