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There are talks about American and Nigerian universities offering joint degree programmes. Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Can students expect joint degree programmes between American and Nigerian universities? That was a topic of discussion by higher education experts from both countries at a recent conference.

Over 30 vice-chancellors from Nigerian universities, five US higher education experts and representatives from the Nigeria Universities Commission explored opportunities for building and sustaining institutional partnerships and ideas for joint degree programmes during the inaugural Nigerian Higher Education Conference in Lagos, Nigeria.

The conference was organised by the US Consulate General Lagos as part of efforts to deepen the relationship between Nigeria and the US.

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Higher education experts are looking into new partnerships that could bolster the global competitiveness of Nigerian universities. Source: Brett Deering/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

US, Nigerian universities exploring future partnerships

According to US Mission Nigeria, US Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli highlighted the US Mission’s commitment to supporting initiatives that strengthen educational and cultural ties between Nigeria and the US in his opening remarks.

He said the conference’s overarching goal was to build on the longstanding US-Nigeria educational ties by opening new frontiers of partnerships capable of enhancing the quality of learning, teaching and research, as well as bolstering the global competitiveness of Nigerian universities.

“This is a giant step forward,” Ibelli was quoted saying by US Mission Nigeria. “Bringing US and Nigerian universities closer together, exploring future partnerships and discussing ideas for joint degrees with American experts were great outcomes of the higher education conference.”

The US Mission has a longstanding commitment to supporting educational institutions and strengthening an education system that enables students to access quality education throughout Nigeria, it said. 

For instance, the Fulbright Programme offers grants to qualified Nigerian graduate students to conduct research for nine months in the US. 

Nigerian students and teachers are also eligible for the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Programme, while scholars can apply to conduct post-doctoral research at US universities.

Many Nigerian students study at the graduate level in the US

The US remains a popular study abroad destination for Nigerian students.

A total of 12,860 Nigerian students were enrolled in over 1,000 educational institutions in the US in 2020-21. According to Open Doors, they make up the largest student cohort from an African nation and the 10th largest worldwide. In the previous year (2019-20), it was even higher at 13,762.

In the 2019-20 and 2021-21 academic years, more Nigerian students were studying at the graduate level than at the undergraduate level in the US. 

There have also been efforts to make it easier for Nigerian students to study in the US. 

It was recently reported that no-interview US visa renewals would be granted for eligible learners to continue their studies. This is limited to students who are already pursuing their education at a university in the US and will be physically present in Nigeria over the summer. 

“If you are currently studying in the US, you may be eligible to renew your student visa without an interview when you return to Nigeria this summer,” said the embassy on its website. 

No-interview US visa renewals will only be valid for students who seek to: continue their studies in the same major even if at a different institution; or continue or change their course of studies at their current institution.