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Nigerian students exempted from taking English proficiency test at this Canadian uni

University of Alberta
On Twitter, Olumuyiwa Igbalajobi, a Nigerian academic based in Canada, said he had written to the graduate school of the University of Alberta asking that applicants from Nigeria should be exempted from submitting the test. Source: Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson Collection/Getty Images via AFP

A Nigerian academic has reportedly succeeded in getting the University of Alberta to remove Nigeria from countries that have to present proof of their English language proficiency before admission. 

On Twitter, Olumuyiwa Igbalajobi, a Nigerian academic based in Canada, said he had written to the University of Alberta’s graduate school asking that applicants from Nigeria be exempt from submitting the test.

After following up, he claimed that Nigeria was added to the list of countries where English is the official language of instruction.

A report by Legit said the University of Alberta had previously recognised some Nigerian schools whose students do not need an English test, but Igbalajobi’s request saw the school granting a full waiver. 

University of Alberta’s English language proficiency test waiver for Nigerians welcomed 

Many Twitter users lauded Igbalajobi’s effort in getting the University of Alberta to recognise English as the official language of instruction in Nigeria.

In response to his tweet, Twitter user Akhila Jayaram said, “Well done @olumuyiwaayo. @UAlberta should consider extending to all Commonwealth countries where medium of instruction is English for a large number of students.”

Another user, TITITUNDE, said: “Writing IELTS or other proof of English doesn’t make people speak good English, it’s just a way of exploiting Africa. Kudos for your kind gesture, I pray another university follows suit.”

Adedoyin Alimi said: “I believe most of these grad schools are just waiting for one or more enquiries bout this. I recalled when applying to Wayne State university last year and they were requesting for English Tets (sic).

“Fortunately they organised an open house event for prospective grad students and we ..raised it. Guess what, within 48 hours after, Nigeria was added to list of countries with English as language of instruction. It was even the email I got from grad school that English Language has not been waived that made me know. So most times, no harm in making enquiries (sic).”

university of alberta

Many universities require international students to take English proficiency tests for admission. Source: Daniel Slim/AFP

English language proficiency tests controversial for some

Many universities require international students to take English proficiency tests for admission if English is not their first language.

The test has proved controversial for some students, particularly those from Nigeria, where English is the official language. Much of the furore surrounding mandatory English proficiency exams is due to the fees charged for a single test.

Ebenezar Wikina, a Nigerian student who is an advocate for the change of English proficiency policies, previously told Study International: “I personally believe that it’s a crime for the English proficiency tests in English-speaking countries especially knowing that they cost up to US$250 (three times the minimum wage in Nigeria). The results expire every two years as well.”

To complicate matters, two popular English language proficiency tests — the IELTS and TOEFL — have a two-year validity date. Once it expires, the test scores cannot be used for future applications, and students have to retake the exam even if they did well the first time. 

Speaking to Legit.ng, Igbalajob said: “From my own lens of equality, diversity, and inclusion, this is just unfair. Nigeria is an English-speaking country and the mode of instruction from the elementary to the tertiary institutions is in English.”

He said subjecting applicants to another round of English tests is “annoying”, adding that the financial constraints “have also prevented a lot of applicants from a shot to most of these universities”.