Nonye Chidomere (Recently completed the M.Sc Information Management and Finance degree at the University of Westminster)
I recently completed my masters programme at the University of Westminster, having previously studied electrical engineering at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The UK experience was quite revealing in many ways, while it lived up to its billings in some areas, it came short in others. I particularly liked the opportunity of meeting and studying with other students from other countries, and getting to learn their culture, the university also offers students career guidance and workshops. Teachers here encourage group activities and this builds your team work skills, something that employers value a lot. Students in Nigeria are pampered in a way, but here you grow up quickly because you have to learn to do research on your own, this is not so much a problem because the resources, technology and books are there. My other issue is that in my course, because it is a combined finance and information management degree, we had limited practical exposure in the information technology modules but the finance bit was okay. I have no immediate plans of relocating to Nigeria, but probably someday, who knows?
Nnadubem Moghalu (Law student at Holborn College)
Despite the initial culture shock and difficulties in settling down to the system, I would say that UK education is still value for money because of the quality of teaching, however this is at a risk of students becoming complacent because of the teachers’ approach which is more soft-touch. Compared to the law library in my former university in Nigeria (The University of Abuja) which was housed in a small flat, I would say that Holborn College is well resourced with up-to-date law publications and periodicals. Definitely I plan to go back to Nigeria eventually, and would advise other African students to think along the same line, although opportunities abound in the UK, I believe that those of us that are privileged to have studied here should also take back our skills to improve the social and economic well-being of our people back home.
Chizoba Onyiuke (MA Public Communications & Public Relations student at the University of Westminster).
I believe that the quality of higher education in the UK is quite high, despite the high cost that students pay, at least employers here and in Nigeria value it. In that regard I would say that I’m quite lucky because I paid home students fees as I was born here. On the down side, the cost of living is extraordinary, to survive students have to work part-time and this eats into their study time. I am not emotional about settling in the UK or relocating back to Nigeria, after all emotions don’t pay bills. I will settle where ever I have better job prospects and opportunities.
QAUDRAT GBADAMOSI (MA International Journalism student at the University of Leeds)
The UK education experience is quite different, here students rule. Imagine eating in class while your lecturer is teaching and also your lecturer that he is so very wrong in what he is teaching in class. This would be considered the height of disrespect to a lecturer in Nigerian universities where lecturers rule. A student that chooses to do that in a Nigerian university would either forfeit that class for that day or for the rest of the semester.
When I first got to the University of Leeds, I was so surprised to hear the students call their lectures by their first names. Although, this is a common practice in the UK society, but I was expecting students to address lecturers by their professional titles for example Dr, Prof, etc. The lecturers feel so comfortable with this system, they like how the students see them as friends instead of as symbols of authority.
Such a system may be good because it makes students to open up and share their problems with their tutors. In Nigeria, a student that will call his lecturer by his first name is not yet born, even if the student made a mistake, he will either pay with deducted grades and marks or will be given a lecture on the history of how the lecturer became a lecturer.
At the University of Leeds, every student is allocated a personal tutor who sees to the student’s problems, both academic and personal. This tutor will take his time to listen to the students and try as much as possible to help with their problems. He calls the students to order in case there are lapses in their academic work. In my five years as undergraduate student in Nigeria, I don’t think that I ever heard of personal tutor, not to talk of pastoral care.How I wish I had a personal tutor in Nigeria, may be I would have been more confident in class.
The method of teaching here is another thing though, some classes are like discussion classes, while some are presentation classes and seminar classes. My first class was a funny experience; the lecturer talked for about five minutes andthe next one hour forty minutes was for class discussion. All I did was cook up all I remember about Nigerian media, so that I’ll also have something to say. In my undergraduate days, we listened to all the lecturer has to say, and then jot down notes; ask questions and finally the lecturer leaves the class. Here in the UK, the method of teaching allows all the students in class to participate in class, this method allows for class discussions, questions and answers etc. The regular discussions and presentations also build students’ confidence.
How can I forget about strike? I witnessed a strike at the University Of Leeds. When I heard that the lecturers were going on strike, I thought ASUU has followed me to UK but it was just a different experience entirely. There was strike but we never missed a class, the lecturers carried on teaching, we also had our exams, and the school was not closed down for years like they do in Nigeria. Students that were to graduate graduated.
As much as I would like to say that I prefer the Nigerian system because it forces unwilling students to study, I still love the UK University system because I know that if I sign on for a four year course in the UK, I will get my four years course and not six years.