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Coventry varsity launches Africa-focused institute, N290m international scholars fund

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coventry1To ease access to quality overseas education, Coventry University, London, United Kingdom, has instituted a (N290m (£1m) scholarship package for international students, for which Nigerian students are eligible, the vice chancellor of the university, Prof. John Latham, has said.

Latham, in an email exchange with The Guardian recently, said that the university has also established the Africa Institute of Transformational Entreprenuership (AITE), to allow the continent take incremental leaps in the same way that mobile communications allowed Africans to move past challenges of lack of fixed wire communication.

Noting that the scholarship package would reward hardworking Nigerians with opportunities to make global impact, he said, “The investment of over £1m in scholarships for our international students is to ensure that we attract the brightest and best students from across the globe regardless of their background.

“In providing support with tuition fees for these students through our scholarships programmes, we believe that we are rewarding academic excellence at every level, ensuring that they are able to access the education that will prepare them to make an impact on the world.”

On the inspiration for the AITE, he noted that despite challenges of youth unemployment, income inequality, and jobless growth, entrepreneurship remains a crucial item for stimulating competition and increasing innovation.

He said, “Questions are asked whether the right capability, capacity, eco-systems and policies exist to transform countries, but entrepreneurship is broadly accepted as a crucial part of their development strategies, and it will grow in importance because of accelerated competition and increased innovation and the enhanced support entrepreneurs are receiving.

“Despite a plethora of support services, the African economy is struggling to grow. Traditional entrepreneurship is socially productive but struggles to address major challenges such as unemployment and income inequality – a new systemic process is needed, and that has informed our decision to establish the AITE.”

On the input of Nigerian academics in the institute’s activities, he said, “The AITE will make contributions to entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurial leadership, innovation, socio-economic development and policy formulation in Africa. It is a collaborative programme with a number of African universities – including those in Nigeria – to establish an African entrepreneurial laboratory, where solutions will be created in Africa, for Africa, and informed by experiences from other continents.”

He said the scholarship offer would favour Nigerians with exceptional high school rewards, adding, “The specific eligibility and requirements for each scholarship programme vary according to the scholarship and amount of funding awarded. For example, for the Nigeria High Achievers Undergraduate Scholarship students must hold WAEC-SSCE Grade A in three or more subjects including mathematics, in addition to being able to demonstrate an understanding of the course and their motivation to study at Coventry.

On ongoing collaborations with Nigerian universities, he said that the apart from continent-wide partnerships, Coventry University is working to stimulate quality teaching and research in entrepreneurship initiatives.

He said, “The great strength and future potential in teaching and research at universities in Nigeria and indeed across the African continent as a whole has motivated our ongoing conversation with the Association of African Universities (AAU), with whom we’re working closely on our Africa Institute for Transformational Entrepreneurship.


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