Since its establishment thirteen years ago, the American University of Nigeria has given out more scholarships than most others in Nigeria.
Bringing together the best and brightest candidates from all over Africa to study under one roof is at the core of AUN’s philosophy. The University seeks to make this possible for all qualified applicants.
Annually, AUN earmarks about 15 percent of its gross revenue for scholarships and other forms of financial aid to undergraduate students. Since the yearly allocations cannot fully cover all of students’ financial needs, the University, registered as a non-profit trust, also collaborates with others to help students with financial need. In effect, every AUN student is on a Founder’s scholarship.
In the last five years, AUN has awarded altogether 897 different scholarships, including 244 covering full tuition, board, books, and meals; 281 full tuition only; 360 part-tuition; eight based on the need of the students, and four best students from Nigeria’s geopolitical zones.
Organizations funding scholarships include the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, the Peace Corps Nigeria Alumni Foundation, Friends of Nigeria, various state and national governments, and above all former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, whose boundless generosity created the University in the first place. The AUN founder believes that financial constraint should not be barrier to quality education for students who meet AUN’s academic criteria.
Underlining his unrivalled commitment to educational philanthropy, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, in a speech at the London School of Economics, on April 24, “Philanthropy and Human Capital Development in Africa: A Contribution from Yola, Nigeria,” stated that, “My concern is to help develop my country in deeper and more holistic ways. Why should we want to facilitate the brain drain out of Africa, to enable our best and brightest to take their ambitions, their intelligence, and their drive to London or New York? We need them in Africa. We need them to understand the problems in Africa . . .”
From the outset, AUN understood that a globally respected, private university degree does not come cheap, and that not everyone can afford it. The AUN Financial Aid Program is therefore designed to help qualified students who may not have the sufficient financial wherewithal to attend a quality private university such as AUN unassisted.
Giving more insight into the passion driving this university’s scholarship program, President Ensign said: “AUN is a center of excellence where the brightest Nigerian and African students are being taught how to become self-reliant. AUN offers merit scholarships for newly admitted students on the basis of academic achievements and promise.”
Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Recruitment, Mr. Linus Ikyurav, observed that although there is no standardized ranking of Nigerian universities by scholarships awarded, AUN’s policy of dedicating 15 percent of its revenue for scholarships, “...coupled with our reduced fees--by virtue of AUN covering the difference between the amount each student pays in fees and the overhead of operating AUN--will exceed that of any other university in Nigeria, both public and private.”
“This current year alone, AUN dedicated more than ₦102 million to its own scholarship program for both new and returning students, giving out 67 scholarship slots.”
AUN has several types of aid programs for undergraduate students, including programs that cover full tuition, and in some cases room and board as well. Examples are the Academic Merit Scholarships, Need Based-Merit Scholarships, the Work-Study Program, and tuition waivers for children of AUN faculty and staff. In 2012, AUN awarded two full scholarships on an annual basis to students from each of Nigeria’s 36 states. Beneficiaries are selected on the basis of their performance in a AUN nationwide test, conducted in the six geopolitical zones of the federation.
The Founder’s generosity is not limited to Nigerians but extends to candidates coming from other African countries as well. In collaboration with the Jacob Zuma Foundation, AUN has awarded scholarships to South Africans in the past four years--five to six students on the average per year. This covers their tuition, room and board. Other international scholarship students come from Uganda and from Rwanda, in partnership with the Rwandan government.
AUN scholarships are sustainable, says AVP Ikyurav, but would certainly benefit from additional community involvement to provide more. “For every student who receives a scholarship at AUN, there are many more who did not. For a lasting impact, individuals and communities need to join AUN to provide more scholarship opportunities.”
AUN scholarships are making huge a contribution to national development. “They give access to global education to those who ordinarily would not have it; they attract the bright and talented to AUN where their research and innovation skills are further developed and made available for national development in Nigeria and beyond’, concludes Ikyurav. Counting on the generosity of those who wish Nigeria well, the University anticipates even more help for deserving students in the future.