Students in Burkina Faso and Niger, who have been blocked from studying in France through that country’s withdrawal of visa facilities, are being urged to consider alternative higher education options for the upcoming academic year.
With the French government standing firm over its closure of consular services in these countries, as well as neighbouring Mali, all run by military governments having poor relations with Paris, their students are running out of time to take up their places in universities in France.
The chief official of Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has told University World News that his government is working hard to help students whose planned university courses in France are now on hold.
This follows the French government suspending visa services for Burkinabé students who have yet to travel to France, amid declining diplomatic relations between Paris and the military government in this francophone West African country.
Other friendly countries sought
Samuel Paré, the ministry’s lead permanent official (secretary general), said that the ministry was looking to re-register Burkinabé students seeking overseas studies with “another friendly country”, with which visas can be secured.
Priority will be given to students who have been awarded scholarships by the government for overseas higher education courses, he said. “If the agreement is reached and students agree with this possibility, then they will be able to avoid losing their scholarships and spending a ‘white year’ of no education.”
As for Burkinabé researchers and lecturers planning to work in France, “we do not have the number of teachers affected, but we assure you that this kind of cooperation is not done in a vacuum. We have the opportunity to turn to the Italian, German and English laboratories,” claimed the secretary general.
Another possibility for Burkinabé students unable to take up courses in France is to switch their scholarships to higher education courses within Burkina Faso.
He said the ministry’s General Directorate of the Council for University Orientation and Scholarships (Direction Générale du Conseil à l’Orientation Universitaire et des Bourses) was ready to help such students.
Paré added that Burkinabé students seeking to study in France, who were already studying in a third country – such as Tunisia and Morocco – should not be affected and would be able to secure visas.