A total of 74 Nigerian students will be travelling to Russia, China and Cuba for post-graduate and first degree studies in different fields.
The students bagged the scholarships under the Bilateral Educational Agreement between Nigeria and 21 other foreign countries.
The Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, who disclosed this at the orientation programme for the scholars on Wednesday in Abuja, said a total of 210 slots were given to Nigeria by the development partners for the 2012/2013 session.
Rufa’i said the students were drawn from each of the six geo-political zones of the federation, using an online application aptitude test.
“Despite the global economic downturn, the number of our development partners has increased significantly, with the list ranging from Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Ukraine, Cuba, Romania, Serbia, Greece, India among others.
“A total of 210 offers were given by our development partners for 2012/2013 session, but permit me to state here that to whom much is given, much is expected, as you will be required to sign the rules governing this awards,’’ she said.
The Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Mrs Hindatu Abdullahi, said Nigeria would have lost about 153 slots to the keen contest by other competing countries, but for the timely intervention of the Federal Government.
Abdullahi said for the 2012 fiscal year, N968,146,476 was approved by Government to service the scheme both at home and abroad.
She explained that under the agreement, the host countries would bear the cost of tuition and accommodation as well as provide a “little” stipend for the students, while Nigeria would provide warm clothing and monthly allowances, pay the travel and administrative expenses and feeding costs.
She noted that the scheme was meant for brilliant and indigent Nigerians whose parents could not afford to sponsor them to study abroad.
The director said that all the beneficiaries had distinctions at one sitting in the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) or National Examinations Council (NECO) examinations.
She urged the students to make very good use of the opportunity offered by the Federal Government to study and preserve the good image of the country.
“There would be no room for extension of scholarship awards owing to incompetence,’’ she said.
Abdullahi said apart from the 70 scholars departing on Thursday night, four others had left for Cuba to study medicine.