Mr Matthew Mechan, Deputy High Commissioner, Australia, Australian High Commission, says not less than 10,000 Nigerian students have been given admissions in Australian universities between 2015 and 2019.

According to him, the process went seamlessly before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic interruptions.

Mechan said this on Saturday at the country’s ongoing education fair in Lagos.

The two-day event, which started with a gala night on Friday, was organised to celebrate and strengthen educational links between Nigeria and Australia.

It was also to promote opportunities offered by Australia’s tertiary education sector to Nigerian students.

The deputy head of mission told the Newsmen that the study fair was stalled by the pandemic, noting that the event was the first ever, since 2019, in the post COVID 19 era.

Mechan said the study fair was a relaunch aimed at adopting a wholistic approach toward closing the vacuum created by the pandemic for better ties with Nigeria.

He added that Australia had produced several successful graduates who returned to Nigeria and were making positive impacts, developing various sectors.

“I recall in 2015, that year we only had 400 people, but after our first fair, we added 1,000 new students. So, we got up to 1,400 students in a space of one year.

“And that slowly grew over time with a couple of hundreds each year.

“So, I guess if you pull all those numbers together, I will think probably since 2015 we will be getting not less than 10,000 Nigerians who have had the chance to study in Australia,” he said.

He noted that Australia had a target of restoring the growth index for more Nigerian students to study in Australia’s adventurous and relaxed learning environment.

“If we can get back to adding a couple of more hundreds of students each year, that will be great. We know that we offer something incredibly different from other countries,” he said.

He urged Nigerians who want different kind of quality education in a relaxed environment to consider Australia, adding that it was a fun place to live and study.

“Our lifestyle is very different, it is very relaxed. We are a nice and warm country.

“We have unique wildlife and great lifestyle, by the beach or things like that, that maybe you don’t get in those other countries, which are a bit colder,” he said.

According to him, consistently, Australian cities like Melbourne had been rated first or second most livable cities on the planet by the Economist for the last decade.

“The High Commission itself has been around since independence but for the Education Fair, specifically we actually did the first one back in 2015 and we were doing them once a year until 2019 and unfortunately it got stopped,” said Mechan.

The meeting had in attendance representatives of Australian universities, key stakeholders, Nigerian educational institutions and two federal lawmakers.

Mr Mohammed Bassi, House Committee Chairman, Nigerian-Australian Parliamentary Friendship Group in the House of Representatives, commended the organisers of the fair and the networking meeting, describing it as a good development.

Bassi, who represents a Federal Constituency comprising four Local Governments in Adamawa, however, urged the Australian government to also allow its citizens study in Nigeria to improve the friendship.

He also urged the Australian government to explore several other areas of the nation’s economy and invest in areas like solid minerals, culture and tourism, as well as the non oil sectors, among others.

“We are inviting them to come over to Nigeria and explore the business opportunities we have and other sectors that are of interest,” he said.

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