The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright on Monday said that 53 Nigerians have been awarded Chevening scholarships for 2018.
Paul Arkwright said this at a dinner organised for the beneficiaries of the scholarship and Chevening Alumni in Abuja on Monday.
The British High Commissioner said that the beneficiaries were selected from 6, 000 applications as the number of awardees had increased from 43 in 2017.
“Last year we had 43 and this year it is an increase of 10, to 53 which is great; it means that the standard is very high because over 6, 000 people applied for Chevening Scholarship this year.
“To get 53 scholarships this year is a real bonus and it is wonderful that so many young, intelligent and bright Nigerians want to study in the UK.
“Over 6, 000 applications, this is the highest number anywhere in the world actually.”
He explained that 40 per cent of recipients were females and that five out of the 53 scholarships were awarded to physically challenged people.
He noted that only one person with disability had been awarded the scholarship in the last 20 years in Nigeria.
“We have increased the number of women from 33 per cent to 40 per cent; our target next year is 50 per cent.
“It is so important that Nigeria encourages girls to go into education. There are 12 million Nigerian children who do not go to school and the majority are girls and women.
“It is therefore really important that we do everything we can to encourage girls to get the education they need.”
He expressed hope that Nigeria would get a good proportion in the increase of the scholarships to 100 in Africa as recently announced by British Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May.
The envoy noted that 15, 000 Nigerian students were currently studying in different universities in the UK, adding that a lot of people were taking advantage of British universities.
“I would like to increase that number. Britain is a very welcoming place for students. We like to encourage more people to apply,” he added.
Senior Communications Officer of the high commission and a past recipient of the scholarship Miss Tinuoluwa Adelegan, said the main focus of the awards was to develop young leaders globally.
Adelegan was awarded a scholarship at Leeds Business School for the 2016/17 academic year.
“The opportunity Chevening scholarship gives is to experience global best practices; it is not just about the UK but people get to mix and learn from others.
“There are leaders that are willing to make a difference, and that is why with Chevening you must come back to your country to make the difference.”
She encouraged more women to apply for the scholarship and advised the new scholars to make the most of the opportunity given to them through the scholarship.
One of the scholarship awardees, Miss Lilian Umeakunne, who is also a crop farmer, said she got a scholarship to study Food Security in the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
“The process of applying for the scholarship takes you through a path of self-discovery and you do not have to know anybody to apply.
“I had to search within, know what exactly I wanted to do with my life to try to answer the four essay questions, gave examples of the work I had done, the impact and results achieved during the interview.”
The Chevening Scholarships Programme commenced in 1983 as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Awards Scheme and is funded by the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
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