The Government of France is currently partnering with the Kano State Government and two Nigerian institutions to offer scholarship programmes in university education.
In an interview with EduCeleb.com, the Attaché for Science and Higher Education at the French Embassy in Abuja, Leïla Mathieu said her government was open to further collaborations.
Recall that the Embassy on 12th and 14th February organised the 6th French Education Fair in Lagos and Abuja in a bid to encourage Nigerians to embrace studying in French tertiary institutions.
Aside Kano, the two other partners are the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and the Federal University of Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo (FUNAI).
With the Kano State government, graduates and employees of state-owned tertiary institutions have a chance to study for their Masters and PhD programmes in different French universities.
Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil; Northwest University, Kano and the Kano State Polytechnic, Kano are the government -owned institutions in the state.
The Embassy works closely with Campus France in Paris towards helping candidates determine the right course and university choices. Campus France is an education agency of the French government.
Also, the French government bears the cost of admission fee and social security for the Kano State sent students. Mathieu disclosed that there were currently twenty-four students on such scholarship from Kano.
On the involvement with the PTDF, she revealed that fifty of the Nigerian beneficiaries of the Fund would be sent to France in 2018. That is in addition to the ten that were sent to French univerisities in 2017. According to her, the French Embassy had helped identified eight universities in France that would be suitable for the various specialisations of the students in relation to the mandate of the PTDF.
It is through Campus France that the PTDF sends monthly stipends and other funds to the students. Campus France also helps students to secure appropriate accommodation within or around their host universities.
Mathieu added that the partnership with FUNAI which was reached last November involved the sending of thirty-five (35) academic staff of the university to French institutions. Nine of them had resumed in France since November with eleven more joining them last Sunday on a joint scholarship financed by the university and the French government. She said the remaining would be resuming for programmes by December.
Developing and improving collaborations
French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Bauer in his message to participants at the Education Fair said that the France considered itself a partner in filling the gap by solving Nigeria’s tertiary education admission challenge.
Less than 30% of students who seek admission into Nigerian tertiary institutions gain admission annually. Mr Gauer also noted that international study experience is highly valued in the Nigerian labour market.
Professor Mathieu disclosed that since her office was created in 2017, the French government had been working towards improving the choice for French universities among Nigerians.
EduCeleb.com reports that the establishment of the Science and Higher Education office in the French Embassy arose based on the need for more cooperation between Nigerian institutions and French universities in higher education as well as science and technology.
The collaboration involves “developing bilateral agreements between universities” and “looking into projects that might interest both sides”. It also entails exchange programmes opportunities.
In her words the projects would “enable Nigerian students go to France and also French students to come on exchange to some of the Nigerian universities.”
She added that several programmes meant to develop good relationship on common research projects in science and technology are also covered. She said more Nigerian tertiary institutions were already seeking partnership through her office.
No language barrier
French universities have about 1500 English-taught postgraduate programmes. So, language may not necessarily be a barrier except in relating with members of the nonacademic community there.
Mathieu observed that Nigerians who already understood French had been visiting France over the years but non-French speaking students were also welcomed. They may however need to get acquainted with some basic French to interact beyond the academic environment.
“Students can go without any French to study. But it is a good idea to learn some French to live. People you meet may not likely speak good English.”
“We encourage students to take some French classes with Alliance Française offices across Nigeria or our ICT Cafe in Abuja. There are affordable courses in French and you can take the exams at each level of your proficiency,” she said.
The French official assured intending entrants into French universities that the fees charged in these universities, especially in the government-owned ones, were relatively low.
According to Campus France, with about 189€ (about N71,000), one could cover fees for a Bachelor’s degree per year. 261€ (about N98,000) could cater for a Master’s programme fee per year.
Those looking to obtaining a PhD can do so with 396€ (about N149,000) per year. Engineering students would pay 615€ (about N231,000) for the fees at the engineering school per year.
Some universities offer tuition-free courses while others offer only part scholarships.