By Nicola Hancox, Editor of Study Travel Magazine


The Sino-African relationship is very much in play. China’s interest in Africa’s natural resources (oil, gas etc) and intensive activity in the continents’ manufacturing and services sector (a spate of agreements are in place to improve infrastructure with the construction of Chinese-built railways, roads, hospitals and sports stadiums) reveal its interest is a vested one.

According to this week’s view from the desk of contributor, interest has spilled into international education, with the Asian giant now setting its sights firmly on its outbound student market. He observes that China’s manufacturing credentials could prove a real lure for the West African postgraduate outbound market, in particular, with programmes in business and engineering topping the list of interests. Looking forward, Chinese recruitment strategies will almost certainly be inclusive of this burgeoning market, especially if the Chinese government’s ambition to grow international student numbers to 500,000 by 2020 is to be realised.

Incidentally, Nigeria’s globally mobile postgrads were rated one of the fastest growing markets (among 23 countries) for six key postgraduate destinations (US, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia and Japan), by a British Council report. Nigerian student numbers are expected to grow an average 8.3 per cent per year, potentially becoming the second most important source of postgrad students for the UK. However, this all hinges on whether or not UK government rethinks policy concerning post-study work rights. If non-EU students are unable to apply what they have learnt in a UK workplace, they will simply look elsewhere, warns Obembe. “Going back to Africa immediately after you study without work experience doesn't give you a chance to get a job, but if you are able to stay in the country and have something added to your CV, apart from the fact that you have a qualification, it will help the students get a better job.”

In contrast, Canada’s more liberal take on post-study work rights will see demand for this study destination increase, he adds. At the recent African Student Recruitment Conference, which Obembe helped co-organise, there was a 156 per cent increase in the number of Canadian institutions interested in tapping into the African outbound student market, and this shift is likely to evolve further, he notes.

 

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