Coventry University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr. David Pilsbury

Coventry University, England recently held a three-day enlightenment programme in Nigeria, which aimed at providing insight into the benefits of having a UK education. In this interview with Mary Ekah, the school’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for international Development, Dr. David Pilsbury harps on the value a UK university education provides as well as the opportunities available particularly for Nigerian students wanting to pursue a career in the agribusiness and energy sectors, especially as Nigeria is currently moving away from oil as its major source of revenue due to the low price of oil in the international market

What makes Coventry University the best choice for Nigerians seeking university admission in the UK?

There are many different reasons why Nigerians apply to Coventry University. We are ranked 12th in the 2018 Guardian University league table, and Coventry is the highest placed modern university in the Complete University Guide 2018. The UK Government gave us a top ‘Gold’ rating in its new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which is one of the best ways to judge quality in a UK university. TEF measures excellence in teaching quality, the learning environment and the educational and professional outcomes of students. All these make a Coventry University degree even more valuable than it was a few years ago. Remember also that our community of Nigerian alumni, the largest in the UK, is an effective way for graduates to network with each other.

What is the success rate of Coventry University graduates with respect to job placements in the Nigerian labour market?

Over 97 per cent of Coventry University degree holders are employed or taking further study six months after they graduate. We have UK work experience schemes for Nigerian students studying at both bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. These students take skills and knowledge from their degrees and apply them in their work placements. This practical experience means that Coventry University students really stand out in a competitive market place against graduates from other universities.

How competitive are Coventry University school fees, in comparison to other universities in the UK?

We know that in the current Nigerian economic climate, everyone wants value for money without compromising on quality. Our No Hidden Extras promise means that we provide key materials, books, equipment, and even on some courses a free Mac Book Pro. Other universities often expect students to pay for these essentials themselves. Our competitive course fees start from £8,725 for bachelor’s degree, and from £11,845 for a master’s.

How has the recent drastic devaluation of the Naira, and the subsequent exchange rate volatility affected the appetite and demand of Nigerian students for UK university education, drawing from your experience at Coventry University? 

Coventry University remains the leading choice for any Nigerian student who wants to study in the UK. We know that the drastic devaluation of the Naira has made Nigerians understandably focused on getting value for money. So many students now ask us about the benefits of studying their course, what they will get for their tuition fees, and why the cost of living in Coventry is much lower than in other major UK cities. To help to reduce the impact of weaker exchange rates, we have a range of scholarships and discounts for self-funded students, including a £3,000 discount on tuition fees at Coventry University London.

What are the courses currently in the highest demand by Nigerian students and why do you think this is so?

With the low price of oil in the international market, and Nigeria currently moving away from oil as its major source of revenue, students are interested in courses like Renewable Energy Engineering and Global Energy Management. We’re also seeing demand for Agroecology and Food Security, likely driven by recent investment by the Central Bank of Nigeria in the agricultural sector. Environmental and Disaster Management, Computer Engineering and Law are also proving attractive to Nigerian students.

When you do get a chance to counsel potential Nigerian undergraduates, what courses do you generally recommend – and why?

We can see a student’s academic strengths by looking at their WAEC/NECO/GCE/SSCE results and can accept results at A and B grades for entry directly into the first year. We look at their future aspirations, as well as their academic qualifications, so that we can give advice about which course is likely to best for them. We have a dedicated enrolment team in-country and in the UK, who can help with this and getting all of the documents they will need for a visa.

How can Nigerian students access the £1 million scholarship fund being offered by Coventry University?

To be eligible for access to the £1 million scholarship fund, a Nigeria student needs to apply for any course at the university. When we have issued an offer letter, the student can apply for a scholarship direct on our website.

How does Coventry University help international students adapt to life in the UK while pursuing their academic dreams?

We have a dedicated International Student Support team to help students settle in to the UK. Students can join our Nigerian societies, and come along to the Nigeria induction event we are planning on campus, to stay part of the Nigerian community.

Any plans to establish a Nigeria campus of Coventry University in the foreseeable future?

We currently deliver courses in partnership with Ghana Technology University College in Ghana. These courses include MBA Oil and Gas Management, MSc Oil and Gas Management and MSc Management Information Systems. We are talking to potential partners in Nigeria to set up a similar collaboration, and are very open to approaches from any interested institutions.

Is there any provision by your university for online programmes for students who wish to study from home in Nigeria?

We already have a selection of online courses for Nigerians to study while here in Nigeria. We recently agreed with FutureLearn, the digital education platform, to deliver 50 Coventry University online degrees in the next few years.