Nigerian university agreement could bring £2million annual boost to Wearside

Members of the Nigerian Society from Sunderland University.
Members of the Nigerian Society from Sunderland University.

An international friendship agreement between two universities could provide a multimillion pound boost to the Sunderland economy.

The city's university has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Edo University, Iyamho, in Nigeria.

Ian Moody, Deputy Director of International at the University of Sunderland.

Ian Moody, Deputy Director of International at the University of Sunderland.

Education chiefs in Sunderland say the partnership could bring in up to £2million a year to the city as Nigerian students get the opportunity to study in the region.

Ian Moody, deputy director of international at the University of Sunderland, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to collaborate with our friends at Edo University.

“Following a pilot in September this year, we could see up to 300 students taking part in an exchange over six different programmes each year.

“The Nigerian students would spend a year of study in Sunderland as part of the partnership.”

Mainland Bridge in Nigeria

Mainland Bridge in Nigeria

Sunderland is one of only two universities to have signed the MoU with the Nigerian university, the other being Worcester State University in Massachusetts, USA.

Professor Emmanuel Aluyor, Vice-Chancellor of Edo University, Iyamho, said “The partnership would offer students at the institution the opportunity to spend between one and two years abroad, to complete their training in approved programmes such as Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering.”

The Nigerian university has been named the best state-owned university in Nigeria and third out of 160 universities assessed by the country’s National Universities Commission.

It is hoped the influx of new students would also have a positive impact on the cultural and academic foot-print of the city.

Nigerian student Esther Emmanuel.

Nigerian student Esther Emmanuel.

According to analysis – carried out by London Economics – the benefits of international students are ten times greater than the costs and are worth £310 per UK resident.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "This confirms the vital net contribution international students make to the UK. This is both in terms of their contribution to the economy, and their positive cultural and academic impact on campuses. It is clear that this positive impact extends to university towns and cities in all corners of the UK.

“It is estimated that international students support over 200,000 jobs in communities across the UK.

"Looking ahead, we need to see a new post-Brexit immigration policy that encourages all suitably qualified international students to choose to study in the UK.

Nigerian student Gabrielle Nwadinobi.

Nigerian student Gabrielle Nwadinobi.

“The UK excels in this area and has the potential to build on its status as one of the most popular destinations in the world for international students.

"This includes enhancing the post-study work opportunities for qualified international graduates, as many of our international competitors have been doing to improve their student visa offer.

"This should be coupled with an expanded international communications campaign, backed by government, to highlight that international students are welcomed and valued visitors to the UK."

The University of Sunderland already has a significantly diverse international community with a strong student support network of over 100 nationalities.

As well as tuition fee payments, international students spend money off-campus on a wide range of goods, services, and activities.

The transport and retail sectors are significant beneficiaries of international students' spending.

International students also attract a significant number of overseas visitors during their time studying in the UK.

The expenditure of these friends and relatives, at hotels, restaurants, and attractions also makes a significant contribution to the economy.

The University of Sunderland is already working with several academic institutions across Africa in countries including Ghana, Cameroon and Kenya.

From Nigeria to Sunderland: ‘We love the people – but hate the seagulls’!

We asked two University of Sunderland Nigerian students about life in the city.

Name: Gabrielle Nwadinobi

Age: 21

Course: BSc Public Health

What made you first want to study at the University of Sunderland?

The University was one of the few that offered public health as a bachelor’s degree at the time. It also seemed to have the best module options to compliment my career goals and quite a diverse cultural community.

What were your first impressions of the city?

Before coming to the uni I had never really heard of Sunderland except the occasional football talk.

When I did get here I was quite impressed with the city centre even though it had quite a contrast to where I lived in London.

Have you felt welcome living in Sunderland?

The city and its people are very welcoming. I adapted quickly to the environment and made great friends rather quickly. It was a culture shock but a good one none the less.

What is the best thing about the University of Sunderland?

It is never about the place, it’s always about the people. The people at the University, both staff and students, create a conducive enough environment that lets you live and learn.

Would you like to see more Nigerian students choosing to study in Sunderland?

Yes, of course. The University already has an ever-growing community of Nigerians. More Nigerians will mean a larger community which will create a larger family.

What would you miss most/least about Sunderland if you did not live here?

I will definitely miss the people. I have met some incredible lifelong friends here. I definitely won’t miss the seagulls!

Name: Esther Emmanuel

Age: 22

Course: BSc. International Tourism and Hospitality Management

What made you first want to study at the University of Sunderland?

Well, I had heard it was one of the best universities for my course and I had family here as well.

What were your first impressions of the city?

It was different, quiet and the best environment for studies.

Have you felt welcome living in Sunderland?

Yes, definitely. People have been nice.

What is the best thing about the University of Sunderland?

The societies and sport; and Varsity

Would you like to see more Nigerian students choosing to study in Sunderland?

Yes, that would be great.

What would you miss most/least about Sunderland if you did not live here?

I’d miss the people and the environment – but I wouldn’t miss the weather!!