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West Africa Contributes Over £30 Million Yearly To UK Education System – Report

Students originating from West Africa, mainly Nigeria, are contributing a whopping sum of £30 million annually to the United Kingdom’s education system, a report published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has revealed.

The report which was published by Carnegie fellow, Matthew Page, noted that West African elite and politicians are those with the most children enrolled in private boarding schools and universities abroad, especially in the UK contributed majorly to the large sum of illicit money flowing into the educational sector which raises eyebrows in terms of the UK’s global anti-corruption objectives.

The UK’s anti-corruption agenda, coupled with the inflow of illicit funds from the educational sectors, majorly from Nigeria, followed by Ghana, has created a great challenge for educators, policymakers and law enforcement in the UK.

This is due to the fact that most of the elites paying for the fees use unexplained money to pay, with factors such as rapidly increasing tuition fees, cost of living and a dwindling currency. 

This has caused questions regarding how senior government officials are able to legitimately afford the cost of their children’s education.

For example, in 2020, the average annual fee for a UK private boarding school was £35,289 (N17.1 million), compared to the yearly earnings of a minister of state being £16,082 (N7.8 million).

“Financial flows involving students linked to these officials may require closer scrutiny,” the report pointed out.

Some of the students who attend or graduated from UK schools and higher institutions have also been noted to be the children of West African politicians and elites that have either been convicted of corruption-related crimes or have had assets seized by British courts.

While the report noted the schools’ awareness of money laundering, it also stated that their awareness of money laundering risks was not sufficient enough to stop the illicit flow of money through the UK’s educational sector.

“Many institutions still appear reluctant to acknowledge outside criticism of the sector’s anticorruption shortcomings or learn from recent scandals. Some have strengthened their anti-corruption protocols, but many are still reluctant to report suspicious transactions,” it said.

Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, in a tweet noted that the report highlighted how the flow of illicit funds from West Africa into the UK educational system must be fought.

“This is an informative and timely report by @CarnegieEndow fellow @MatthewTPage

into illicit financial flows from West Africa into the UK education sector. Tackling all forms of corruption is a top UK priority and we must all work together to fight it,” she said.

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Hafsah Abubakar Matazu

Hafsah Abubakar Matazu is the current Programme Director at HumAngle. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mass Communication from Baze University Abuja. Prior to joining HumAngle, she worked for Abuja-based Daily Trust Newspapers as an investigative reporter. She leads the program team in planning and implementing grants as well as funded and non funded reporting projects. She tweets via @hafsahabubakar_

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