Aruna Amirthanayagam deputy chief of mission, US embassy, says 140 Nigerian students have received scholarships worth more than $6 million from different schools in the US in 2017.
Amirthanayagam made this known at the pre-departure orientation for the students organised by the embassy in Abuja.
The envoy said that the students were awarded full and partial scholarships.
“Today we celebrate the more than 140 young men and women, members of EducationUSA, who have received offers of admission and scholarships to attend US colleges and universities.
“The list of acceptances is quite impressive including more than 560 schools in all; among them are Boston University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Vanderbilt University, to name a few.
“To support these Nigerian scholars, this year EducationUSA members received more than six million dollars in scholarships from these institutions.”
The envoy said some of the students got multiple offers from different schools which left them with choices to make.
He also said that the objectives of the scholarships were mutually beneficial to both countries and the opportunity would help groom the next generation of leaders in Nigeria.
“The US offers some of the best educational institutions in the world and I believe that students going to study would benefit tremendously and so will the US.”
He further said that more than 10,600 Nigerian students were currently studying in more than 980 colleges and universities, according to the latest open doors report of the institute of international education.
He said that the figure was a 12 per cent increase from 2016 and it also contributed to a five per cent increase for all of Africa.
“Nigeria continues to be the undisputed leader in Africa, sending more international students to the United States than any other country on the continent, ranking number 14 among countries worldwide.”
The envoy further explained that EducationUSA advising provided clear and authoritative information on U.S. undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate academic programmes.
He said the embassy had advising centres in Abuja and Lagos which also assisted “high-achieving, low-income students” to apply to schools in the US that would offer them admission with full scholarships.
“This Opportunity Funds programme removes the financial barrier to U.S. study for some of Nigeria’s most talented students.”
Malate-Ann Atajiri, an education adviser, explained that the programme sought out and assisted academically excellent students to get full scholarships from schools in the US.
Atajiri said that 12 students benefited from the programme in 2016 and 17 students benefited in 2017.
“Some of those things we have done is we seek out those students, we work closely with them, we pay for all the costs that come along with applying to schools in the US.
“Last year, we were able to send about 12 of such students to the U.S. and this year we are sending 17 students; 11 undergraduate and six graduate students coming from different schools in the country.
“One thing that all the students have in common is that they are academically talented; on average the undergraduate students that we work with have seven As in WAEC and graduate students are all first class and have published works in international publications.”
Atajiri said that about $60,000 was the total funds spent by the embassy in 2017 for the 17 students of the opportunity funds programme.
She also added that the total scholarships awarded by different schools in the US to these students was more than 1.5 million dollars.
“Besides the monetary value, one thing that the Opportunity Funds programme strives to do is to develop those ethos of giving back; we are making an investment in the lives of individuals and our hope is that they will think of ways to impact other people’s lives,” she said.
Folashade Adebayo, EducationUSA advising supervisor, explained that the students who benefited from the opportunity funds programme were still part of the 140 students who were awarded scholarships by different schools in the US.
Adebayo also said that the embassy reached out to students through schools, visiting NYSC camps and through adverts on their website.
She said that 1,500 applications had already been received for 2018.