FORTY Nigerian students have been granted scholarships by the European Union (EU) as part of its Erasmus Plus programme aimed at offering educational opportunities to promising youngsters in developing nations.
Erasmus Plus is an EU flagship programme for higher education and with the scholarship, the students will be able to study in European countries. It also offers opportunities to students and staff to attend or work with European higher education institutions.
Speaking about the scholarship yesterday during the pre-departure orientation for the students in Abuja, Ketil Karlsen, the EU ambassador to Nigeria, said the community has supported young Nigerians who got the scholarship with €6.6m since the inception of the programme in 2014.
Mr Larlsen said over 1,000 students applied for the 2019 scholarship programme but only 40 of them were selected. He added that the EU has supported Nigeria with about N600m for development programmes and as a result, there has been a drop in irregular migration and an increase in regular migration.
“The students will be going to 10 different European Union countries. Among the countries are Italy, Spain, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Poland, Netherlands and Germany.
“We have seen a high record because there has been a consistent increase in the number of students coming to Europe since 2014. This year’s scholarship scheme experienced an increase of 25%.
“I cannot see a better way of investing in development opportunities for the youth. Over the decade, we have 12,000 Nigerians who have studied in Europe on a different scheme,” Mr Larlsen said.
He added that the programme is sending out a very powerful message because the EU wants to engage Nigerians and us not closing its borders. Mr Larlsen said they are only saying there should not be irregular migration and people should not risk their lives trying to get to Europe.
According to Mr Larlsen, the only challenge the EU faced was tracking some of the alumni of its educational programmes. Some old beneficiaries of the Erasmus Plus scholarship who were present advised the 40 awardees to be focused, determined, and understand European laws and culture.
Elizabeth Ogbodo, a lecturer at Salem University, advised the awardees to study their modules and participate in every academic activity in class. While emphasising that punctuality is key for the students, Ms Ogbodo encouraged more young Nigerians to apply for the scholarship opportunity.
Christian Oganbule, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, who got a scholarship to study MSc in Functional Advanced Engineering, said he will contribute immensely to the steel sector after his programme. Similarly, 25 year old Chisom Adaobi, a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, described the scholarship as a great opportunity.