Nigerian students in Bangladesh

Recently, Bangladesh is seeing a number of international students in different universities, most of them are of African nationalities. Riasat Raihan talks with a group of Nigerian students and explores their experiences of living in Bangladesh so far.

Nigerian students of Islamic University of Technology are performing at a cultural programme. - Nigerian Students Community - IUT Bangladesh Chapter

Nigerian students of Islamic University of Technology are performing at a cultural programme.
– Nigerian Students Community – IUT Bangladesh Chapter

Bangladesh has become a popular choice of destination for higher studies for the international students, specifically for students from different African nations. In this article we are going to focus on the large number of Nigerian students who are coming to Bangladesh to get their tertiary level education and their life in this country. Their reasons behind choosing Bangladesh encompass socio-cultural similarities, affordability and acceptance of their degrees at home and so on.

In search of students, the New Age Youth went to Daffodil International University which comes on the top of our mind as we found that the majority of the African students, mostly Nigerian, choose DIU to pursue higher studies. There are about 570 international students who are currently studying at DIU. A good number of Nigerian students are found at Islamic University of technology as well. IUT is funded by OIC and nurtures the objective to help in the education of OIC state members, especially in the areas of engineering and technology. Most Nigerian students at DIU are studying pretty much the same subjects. It seems they have an aim to get degrees in engineering and technology, which might come in help for their own nation to develop in the long run.

Nigerian students of Islamic University of Technology are performing at a cultural programme. - Nigerian Students Community - IUT Bangladesh Chapter.

Nigerian students of Islamic University of Technology are performing at a cultural programme.
– Nigerian Students Community – IUT Bangladesh Chapter.

After our team went to DIU, we got to meet with a group of amazing people, who enthusiastically shared their journey from their home, Nigeria, to Bangladesh. Reasonably, the very first question that came into mind was why have they chose Bangladesh? Hamisu Hussaini, who is also the president of Nigerian Students’ Association in Bangladesh and is on his last semester in the software engineering department put it simply, ‘My main reason for coming to Bangladesh was because it is a Muslim country.’ Along with him, another student from Nigeria, Usman Tomsu, who is also in the same department, echoed the same mindset. But he added that he wanted to study at IT sector. He thinks Bangladesh is doing better in technological sectors compared to his country. Among the Nigerian students there was one student from Somalia. His name is Abdul Hadi and he had a different reason to come here. He said that he first wanted to go to Turkey. Then he heard from one of his friends that the cost of education in Bangladesh is cheaper than Turkey and the degree would be equally valuable at home, he decided to come here. Yen Chiao-Wen is as an exchange student from Taiwan, she came from Ling Tung University. Her reason was somewhat different from others. She came here because she wanted to live the culture of Bangladesh and gain a good experience from her time in here. She is currently on her second semester and studying business at DIU.

Nigerian student collected help for Rohingya refugees. - NAIJ.com

Nigerian student collected help for Rohingya refugees.
– NAIJ.com

For non-native English speakers, TOEFL or IELTS is compulsory to get admission at the universities of English speaking countries; all the Bangladeshi students have to take either one. However, it is not the case with someone who wants to study in Bangladesh. The international students did not face any language assessment test prior to coming here. They said, if the university thinks that a student needs some sort of language assessment, they will decide on the basis of the student’s first impression and language ability. This however might be questioned in the process of ensuring highest understanding of a subject in a foreign land.

There is a common tendency among Bangladeshis to assume whenever African students come to our country for studies, that they are hired as players or athletes. We asked the group about this issue and they expressed their thoughts on this with a sigh. Particularly, Usman Tomsu expressed his deep concern on this issue, ‘This is something we want to resolve in the coming 4-6 months’, he added, ‘there is no way you can come to the university as a player.’ African students have to face a lot of crisis with the local people for this reason. He continued by saying that a lot of African people come here as hired player. Not for an admission, they come here in the name of football only to get into the country. And when they get into the country, they involve in harmful activities which affects the reputation of the African students who are genuinely studying here. Tomsu also said that whenever those fake ‘students’ are caught the media doesn’t specify whether that person is a student or a businessman or someone else. They always mention that the person is from Africa and he is caught for committing a crime. For this, the whole African students’ community face crisis with the local people. For example, local landlords don’t care if they are genuine students or not, if any African commits a crime, many students are requested by the landlord to leave their accommodation. On an important note, if one student doesn’t get a knowledgeable or rational landlord then it will be very difficult for him to live there. Because, for any common landlord what matters the most is if anyone commits any crime from your country, is so, you’ll have to vacate his house the next day. They barely put any consideration for the different nationalities. The only thing they will see that if you are an African or not. However, things are quite easy for many as DIU has a hostel only for international students and getting a seat there save many of us from the burden of managing an accommodation in a foreign land.
Although, these students have selected Bangladesh for their higher studies because of its affordability, their economic condition is still an issue here. When we asked about economic background of their families we came to learn different things. About 90% of the international students are sponsored by their parents and rest got scholarships. Another big problem they are facing here is that they are not allowed take any kind of jobs, even if it is just part time. It is strictly prohibited according to their visa policy. This is why they all have to rely on a fixed budget coming from their families. However, in the case of DIU, if an international student fails to pay the tuition fee in time, the university will consider that case and allow that student to continue study.

One amazing thing we learnt that, the bonding among the international students community is rather strong. Since they are not allowed to work here, they have to rely on each other if there is a money related crisis. They said that they are proud to have those people around them because they know if today one student faces any problem another one will come forward to help that student. Everyone has got everyone’s back. This thing is making their community more united than ever and hopefully it will always remain strong like this.
Since the number of the African students is high at DIU, we wanted to know the reason behind this. We talked to Faruque Miah, assistant registrar at DIU. He said, ‘We are very friendly with our foreign students, they can build friendship and setup themselves very easily with this new environment. Teachers are very concerned about them and provide pure guidelines to them. The modern classroom technologies and teaching strategies help big time in teaching foreign students too.’
Despite of all the ups and downs they face in their regular lives, they are enjoying their lives in Bangladesh. We asked about their entertainment and pass-time activities here. Generally, they hang-out with their friends at their homes, they have fun and eat food. Sometimes they go to cinema or to some coffee places to enjoy themselves. One good thing they have experienced in here that they never faced any sort of racial discrimination. They addressed the hospitality they have got from Bangladeshi people to be awesome. We found out that they have a good number of Bangladeshi friends. Talking about Bengali culture, they mentioned food. They shared different interesting stories about our food and how they like it. Yen Chiao-Wen, an exchange student said that she has already fallen in love with Bangladeshi food. On the other hand, Hadi said that he lives on take-away food. Usman, however, said, he like many of his friends found Bangladeshi cuisine to be quite similar to their own food and they have absolutely loved the food here. Some have mentioned that they participated and thoroughly enjoyed Bengali festivals like Pohela Baishakh and Pohela Falgun.
Lastly, they have shared their future plans, what they are going to do after their degree. An interesting insight came here too. Usman said that an IT graduate from Bangladesh will easily get $600-700 monthly salary in Nigeria. Now, how many fresh IT graduates get that with the same degree in Bangladesh? All the Nigerian students wanted to get back to their country and their family. They felt that it is their duty and responsibility to serve their country and stay with their family. Mainly two reasons are barring them from seeking jobs in Bangladesh, the first one is low wage and the second one is their family back at home.

At present our economic growth is better than many other developing countries. So, the students chose Bangladesh to be their platform for higher education. Our environment and culture is very suitable for them and living cost is minimal. That’s why we are having more students from abroad. Now, many universities are expanding the range of scholarships to attract more students and of course by maintaining an international standard of education. How it all ends up benefitting both our country and the foreign students in the long run remains halt for future scrutinisation.

 

Riasat Raihan is a member of the New Age Youth team.

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