On June 4, Nigerian man, Dr Olumuyiwa Igbalajobi took to Twitter to share the great news that University of Alberta, a prestigious Canadian University no longer requires that Nigerians take English proficiency tests. This was following a request he made via LinkedIn, Twitter and email two weeks prior.
Nigeria, South Africa, Seychelles and Mauritius are now the only African countries on the university’s list of countries in which English is the official language of instruction. The university also lists few specific universities in 15 other African countries – including Kenya, Ghana and Egypt – for which English proficiency tests are not required.
In his request, Dr Igbalajobi – who works with University of British Columbia as a postdoctoral research fellow – pointed out that English was the language of instruction in all Nigerian schools from elementary to tertiary level. According to him, the list of exempted universities for Nigeria was unjustified as it only included 35 out of 160 accredited universities in Nigeria.
‘I affirmatively believe that the University of Alberta attracts applicants from different backgrounds and inclusion is germane to her. It will be greatly appreciated if the current list is updated or reworded to reflect all universities in Nigeria’, he appealed.
Igbalajobi also pointed out that some other universities such as University of Manitoba, University of Calgary and University of Toronto had already exempted Nigerian students from having to take English proficiency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL.
The new development will definitely prove immensely beneficial to Nigerians, who form one of the largest immigrant groups in Canada. Between 2018-2020 alone, over 18,000 Nigerians received permanent residency in Canada according to a report by Nairametrics. This ranked Nigeria as the third most common country on the list behind India and China. In that 3-year period however, there were close to a million Nigerian applicants.
Many older Nigerians take the Postgraduate studies path to Canadian citizenship. By securing admission to Masters and doctoral programs in Canadian Universities, they become eligible to apply for study visas. Upon the completion of their program and even during the course of their program sometimes, they then find work and attempt to build towards permanent residency.
The appeal for foreign universities to exempt Nigeria from English proficiency test requirements is not new. In January, over 40,000 Nigerians reportedly signed a petition asking for the UK to either exempt Nigeria from the list of countries required to take the IELTS test, or reduce the cost of the test.
The fees of the test currently stands between 80,000 and 90,000 NGN, and will likely continue to increase with the rising exchange rate. For Nigerians, this is just an unnecessary expense added to the already extremely high expenses involved in moving to foreign countries.
Hopefully, more universities in Canada and other countries outside Africa with a heavy Nigerian presence will follow suit after University of Alberta.