Students from Africa, for many years, have been in the pursuit of high-quality education offered all over the world. Motivated by strong aspirations and career opportunities, the African students are looking beyond what their home country can provide.
Study abroad experience can have a profound impact on the individual: from transforming one’s career path and social circles to enhancing global engagement. A recent study conducted at the University of Minnesota has shown that international students become civically involved and, despite the expectations, are likely to return to their home countries.
Why Do African Students Seek Education Abroad?
Depending on the budget of an individual and their career goals, international students from Africa can either study in prestigious African universities or venture to go further and travel to the USA, Europe or Asia.
In the past decade, South Africa has seen the second largest number of students from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Libya, and other African countries.
As opposed to other global regions, African and Middle Eastern applicants name career goals as the strongest motivator to study abroad. Below is a brief overview of the admission statistics published in 2018.
What motivates African students to study abroad?
- Getting higher level qualifications - 71%
- Progressing in one’s current career path - 45%
- Entering a particular profession - 44%
- Improving employment prospects - 29%
- Personal interest - 24%
- Exchange opportunities - 14%
- Reputation of foreign universities - 10%
- Other - 6%
As we can see, personal or cultural motivations yield to career goals and employment prospects.
Where in the World
There are African Universities like the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, and the University of the Witwatersrand that are among the most prestigious in the world and are favored by students in Africa itself. However, students are keen to get more cultural exposure by getting their studies done overseas.
According to the latest QS Applicant Survey, the US and Canada are the leading destinations for African students to proceed with their studies. Around 36% of students refer going to colleges in both the US and Canada for undergraduate and master courses. The statistics showed 31%, 25% and 23% of students then prefer the UK, Australia, and Germany respectively.
China is another popular destination that has seen a stride in the flow of African students to their top universities. The number of students from Africa took a whopping spike of 95,000 in 2014, and the country has since pledged 30,000 more scholarships to encourage more mobility from Africa. France has also been attracting students from French-speaking countries like Algeria and Cameroon.
The reasons for students from Africa to choose these countries is highly influenced by the standard of education and above all the Financial Aid. Many universities in Europe also require very less or no tuition fees.
Requirements to Study Abroad
The requirements to study abroad for all international students would depend on the country, the university, and the program. However, there is a standard set of documents necessary to apply to all universities.
Transcripts from Schools
- Proof of Language Proficiency
- Recommendation Letters
- Statement of Purpose
For Undergraduate programs, students would need to pass the standard international entrance exams like SAT depending on the country you are applying to. The African matric qualification alone might not qualify you to the required level.
For postgraduate programs, you would need completion of degree certificate and would be required to write the country and course-specific entrance exams.
The minimum grade requirements for Universities will vary across the countries. Also depending on the medium of instruction, students will have to take language tests to show the level of proficiency.
Apart from this, to get a student visa, you would also need to show Confirmation of enrollment, proof of sufficient funds and meet the health insurance requirements.
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Scholarships for Students from Africa
All the countries mentioned above have been focusing on widening their educational prospects by welcoming more international students. As a part of it, many scholarships are offered by the many organizations to encourage students. Here are a few notables ones for students from Africa.
- Mastercard Foundation Scholarship: Canadian and American Universities have partnered up the Mastercard to offer a $500 million initiative to provide scholarships for 15,000 students, especially from Africa. The University of Toronto, McGill University, the University of British Columbia are among the top colleges offering the scholarship programs.
- Australian Development Scholarships (ADS) for African Students: An initiative by the Australian Government to offer fellowships and financial aid for 1,000 postgraduate students from Africa.
- The Beijing Government Scholarship (BGS): Provided by the Beijing Municipal Government that offers a partial or full tuition fee for international students studying in Beijing.
- French Government (Eiffel Excellence) Masters and Ph.D. Scholarships: Scholarships of Masters and Ph.D. students from developing countries majoring in engineering, economics, science, law, and political science.
- VLIR-UOS Training Scholarships in Belgium: Offered for students from African countries with preference given to women who take available training and master programs in English.
English Language Proficiency
Students will need to provide evidence that they have achieved a certain level of English language proficiency.
The level required again will be determined by the University and the program. These are the commonly accepted tests.
- IELTS Academic Module
- University of Cambridge Advanced
- Pearson Test of English
- VU English EAP
These tests should be taken no less than two years before commencing the course.
The majority of African students prefer to choose a degree in engineering or business studies. In European countries especially languages, art, and human sciences are also popular subjects followed by law and political science.
Students from African countries are looking to move abroad to countries that offer them better standards of living. The ability to stay in the country after completing the course is also becoming a significant deciding factor. But it is also common for students to be back their expertise to their home countries and contribute to strengthening their economy.
Every country has something to offer, and it is best to choose the course depending on academic and individual preferences.
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