•TETFund takes action on challenges faced by Nigerian lecturers on foreign scholarships
•Lecturers have been seeking assistance to cover shortfalls in their living expenses due to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has taken action to address the difficulties faced by Nigerian lecturers pursuing their studies in foreign institutions under the TETfund Scholarship for Academic Staff (TSAS) programs. This assurance was conveyed by Abdulmumin Oniyangi, the Acting Director of Public Affairs at TETFund, in a statement released in Abuja on Thursday.
According to Oniyangi, these lecturers have been seeking assistance to cover shortfalls in their living expenses due to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. Notably, TETFund received appeals from scholars in countries such as Malaysia, India, and Kenya, who reached out to the Minister of Education and the fund, requesting intervention to enable them to successfully complete their studies.
Initially, the TSAS program, which was introduced in 2008, disbursed full tuition and living expenses directly to the beneficiary institutions. These institutions were expected to manage the approved training costs in domiciliary accounts and disburse tuition to foreign institutions while also handling living expenses in scholars' foreign accounts based on progress reports.
However, due to various complaints and observations of non-compliance, TETFund revised its disbursement methods in August 2019. Tuition payments were made directly to foreign training institutions to mitigate exchange rate fluctuations, while living expenses continued to be retained in domiciliary accounts before transfer to scholars to uphold the scholarship bond with their employers.
In 2022, TETFund began paying living expenses directly to scholars after the first year, taking on the burden of exchange rate variations. Additionally, TETFund entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with foreign institutions to ensure the welfare and academic progress of its scholars.
TETFund expressed regret over scholars from beneficiary institutions who failed to open domiciliary accounts, assuring that it wouldn't punish the scholars for their institutions' non-compliance. Shortfalls in scholars' living expenses are currently being calculated by the Fund and will be paid directly to eligible scholars, with recovery from subsequent allocations to affected institutions.
Furthermore, considering the rising cost of living in foreign countries, TETFund proposed an increase in living expense rates for scholars starting from the 2023/2024 academic year. The Fund appealed to affected scholars to be patient as it finalizes individual calculations and obtains necessary approvals for the additional budgetary expenditure.