Why Tanzanian students admire studying abroad: The allure of a foreign degree

What you need to know:

  • Universities in the country have been under scrutiny in recent years for their graduate skills, which are often mismatched with the realities of the modern workplace.

Dar es Salaam. Many Tanzanian students dream of studying abroad, believing that a foreign degree will give them better skills and opportunities than a local degree.

Universities in the country have been under scrutiny in recent years for their graduate skills, which are often mismatched with the realities of the modern workplace.

This is because the coursework emphasises theory rather than practical work.

For this reason, students who can afford it and are lucky enough to get a scholarship or risk-free migration to attend university in Europe, North America, or any other continent outside of Africa are making the most of their opportunities.

Some of the scholars who are enrolled in universities abroad mention the acquisition of better skills and knowledge as one of the reasons why they opted to go abroad, as well as the need to acquire employability skills.

"Although a college like the National Institute of Transport (NIT) offers training for aircraft engineers, I believe that in order to be better, I must find an opportunity to study abroad," says Benard Ngweri, 20, a third-year student at one of the engineering colleges in China.

“My father wanted me to study abroad for a long time, so when I passed my exam, he had already made a plan to find me a college abroad because he believed in quality," he explains.

For his part, Dr Ayubu Mmari, Ngweri's father, said that the goal of sending his son to study abroad was not because the local universities were incompetent, but because he had always wished for his son to acquire a wider understanding of things.

"I really like exposure. I was not lucky enough to go to study my bachelor’s degree abroad, but I studied Masters and PhD there, and I saw many good things even outside the classroom that made me organise myself so that my sons can also study there," he explains while saying that the goal was not to make them change their citizenship but to gain knowledge and bring it back to the country.

For her part, Jenifer Alfred, 19, who joined the University of Edinburgh in Scotland last year (2022), says that the ease of choosing colleges anywhere in the world currently gives her a chance to study abroad.

She notes that the presence of registered agencies that connect students with foreign universities is another factor that has made it much easier for many students to study abroad.

"I wanted to study at the best college anywhere, locally or even abroad. During the university exhibition organised by the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) last year, I was able to meet an agent who made my trip to Scotland successful," she explains.

“I didn't know if it was possible, but I involved my father, and he supported me, and when I was shortlisted, he catered for all the expenses," she explains via WhatsApp call.

From time to time, the minister for Education, Science, and Technology, Prof Adolf Mkenda, has been encouraging the exchange of knowledge through university education that has no boundaries to help further improve local universities.

"We need to make good use of the opportunity brought by universities that are universal, universities in the country should ensure that their lecturers get more experience and knowledge from other foreign universities in parallel with student exchange," Prof Mkenda was quoted.

Dr Abdalla Msofe, an education expert based in Dar es Salaam, said that when it comes to education, where you study is of no value but the skills you possess and the kind of knowledge you have acquired.

“Studying abroad is one of the best ways to acquire global skills and access personal and professional opportunities. It’s a life-changing experience for many students, opening their know-how to different ways of life and promoting understanding and tolerance of other cultures in a world that is getting smaller by the day,” he said.

However, he says that local universities should change their modus operandi to attract students and lecturers from abroad.