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Admissions: Canadian university removes Nigeria from English test requirement



Olumuyiwa Igbalajobi, a Nigerian postdoctoral research fellow in Canada, recently got the University of Alberta, Canada, to exclude Nigerian students from its English language requirement.

Mr Igbalajobi, who hails from Ekiti State, South-west Nigeria, on May 22, emailed and tweeted at the university’s official Twitter handle, calling its attention to a list of select universities from Nigeria who meet the institution’s English language requirement.

“I write to call your attention to a list on your graduate school page exempting applicants with credentials from ‘SELECTIVE’ universities in Nigeria from the English Language Requirement at the University of Alberta,” he tweeted.

He added that “the official language in Nigeria is English which automatically translates to the fact that all academic programmes from elementary to tertiary education are taught in English.”

He said based on that, Nigeria should have been exempted entirely and not some select schools.

Nigerians have over the years, but most recently intensified the campaign #ReformIELTS, which calls on foreign universities to exempt Nigeria from taking English requirements tests such as International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

In January, PREMIUM TIMES reported that about 40,000 Nigerians signed a petition calling on the United Kingdom (UK) home office to either remove Nigeria from the list of countries whose citizens are required to take English proficiency tests or reduce the fees charged for the examination.

The cost of the test, which currently stands between N80,000 and N90,000 in Nigeria, is almost three times the country’s minimum wage of N30,000.

“I affirmatively believe that the University of Alberta attracts applicants from different backgrounds and inclusion is germane to her. It will be greatly appreciated if the current list is updated or reworded to reflect all universities in Nigeria…,” Mr Igbalajobi wrote.

University reacts

In acknowledging his email, the university noted that Mr Igbalajobi’s email “surfaced an important issue of discrepancies between ELP exempted countries as listed across Canadian post-secondary institutions…”

It noted that it will work with its U15 partners to make the reference list consistent but will “in the meantime, add Nigeria to the list.”

Adding that it (University of Alberta) is home to many Nigerian graduate students and will make sure that Nigerians and other prospective students have accurate information as “they research and apply to our institution.”

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, Mr Igbalajobi said he sent a reminder to the university after a week of monitoring its website for a change.

“I noticed that it was effected yesterday (Saturday),” he said.

PREMIUM TIMES can confirm that Nigeria has now been added to the university’s list of countries where English is an official language of instruction.

However, this newspaper further confirmed that the university’s second category of exempted international schools had yet to be corrected or taken down from its website.

Mr Igbalajobi insists that “my request gave them a reason to add Nigeria to the first list.”

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