The Engineering Institute of Technology took part in the 2018 Future Unlimited West African Education Exhibition in April. The exhibition was organized by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission. Its aim was to give Australian education providers the opportunity to promote their course offerings to prospective students in Africa. The attendees were a mixture of younger students interested in undergraduate diplomas and degrees, and graduates wanting to embark on further studies.

The exhibition took place in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria, and in Ghana’s capital city Accra. David Gadjus, EIT’s International Education Manager for Africa and South America, chatted to students about the educational opportunities our college offers those with a passion for engineering. He was able to apprise them of both the online and on campus options for study, and indeed encouraged them to consider a combination of both.

Starting the journey in Lagos, David found that many Nigerian students were either critical, or at least skeptical, of online education. He heard tales of colleges pushing unaccredited courses onto young Nigerian, with profits their sole motivation.

Something else he noted with interest was that the legitimate education institutions in Nigeria are predominantly polytechnic universities and TVET colleges, rather than those offering higher education options.

EIT, on the other hand, offers African students (and indeed students throughout the world) the opportunity to gain BSc Degrees in a range of engineering disciplines with the added option to complete engineering Master Degrees. These are accredited by the Australian Government and by globally-based engineering bodies which are signatories to the Sydney and Washington accords.

According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Nigeria’s demand for education is outstripping the capacity of their local education institutions. Diploma graduates are increasingly considering further higher education opportunities abroad, as are the new crop of school leavers.

During David’s trip, he met with engineering councils, companies, agencies and universities in both Nigeria and Ghana. They all expressed the belief that African students are hungry for sound qualifications in higher education. Since 2012 Nigeria has seen the numbers of Nigerians studying abroad grow fourfold. Gadjus says:

“In Nigeria, each year, there is a need for 1.5 million placements in universities, but only a third of that is made available to them. There is a pool of a million students that need better opportunities.”

The Engineering Institute of Technology has been providing engineering education to students in Southern Africa for many years now and is increasingly securing a larger footprint in Africa. As newer technologies are embedded in Africa, the chance to educate and train the next generation of great African engineers, both in their country and abroad, becomes more of a reality.

The outlook for the future of education in Africa, despite its historical shortcomings, is looking more positive.

Studying abroad

EIT offers excellence in education, with qualifications which are widely accredited, to allow students some mobility globally. Apart from the option of acquiring these qualifications from home, via EIT’s live and interactive online platform of learning, students can also apply to study on-campus in Perth, Western Australia.

Moving on to Abuja, Nigeria, David met with the African University in Bayelsa State, just north of Port Harcourt in the South of Nigeria. They are preparing to open their Faculty of Engineering within the university and hope to have everything in place by September. He also met with experts actively working on engineering courses to be run in Rwanda.

David was gratified to see the energy of the people behind the education institutions perfecting and refining engineering education and training in Africa. Many are keen to collaborate with EIT - an exciting prospect for our college.

Good outlook

After visiting Nigeria, David traveled to Ghana. He went to the capital city, Accra. He noted that Ghanaian graduates showed a greater interest in completing postgraduate degrees abroad. According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, as of 2017, only 600 Ghanaian students were studying in Australia. This is a number the Australian government would like to see grow over time.

In Ghana David met a young man who has been following EIT’s activities for many years and is an avid reader of our newsletter. Much to our delight he has now enrolled on EIT’s Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) - he will start his academic journey in July, on campus in Perth.

David’s next trip will take him to Mauritius, Kenya and Egypt. In these countries he will endeavor to establish relationships with the various engineering and education bodies and of course meet students who are excited by the idea of education and careers in engineering.