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Nigerian study visa applications doubled from 65K in 2022 to 115K in 2023 –UK envoy

The United Kingdom says only international students coming in for PhD studies are eligible to bring dependents to the country.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Richard Montgomery, made this known in an interview on Sunday in Abuja.

He said the educational system policy, changed earlier this year for international students in higher education, is to curb the increase of foreign student bringing in dependents.

He explained that the huge surge in dependence upkeep was putting an unsustainable pressure on many universities, adding that it was the reason the changes were introduced.

Montgomery added that before his posting as High Commissioner to Nigeria, he had spoken to some of the universities on the policy change, which had been in the pipeline for some time.

He noted that the universities’ chancellors had complained of the huge student population, highlighting that accommodation was a huge challenge, access to medical services under the National Health Service and access to school if they brought in dependents.

According to him, the restrictions do not apply to all categories, adding that those doing a long-term research degree, like a PhD, are not affected.

“Those coming to the UK for doctorate can still bring their dependents; but if you are coming to the UK with a study visa for an undergraduate degree, or short-term master’s degree, I’m afraid the rules have been changed.

“People need to understand why this change was brought in, and it is a sensible change because we have a large higher education sector and most of these universities are in towns across the country.

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“There has been a surge in demand for British education recently, and I can give you the macro figures and there has also been a huge increase in foreign students bringing their dependents.

“In the case of Nigeria, in 2019, before the Coronavirus pandemic, there were only 1,500 dependents being brought in from Nigeria, with those on study visas,

“In 2022, that figure had increased to 52,000 dependents. That’s a 30-fold increase in dependence. And it’s not just about Nigeria, by the way.

“It is also about all foreign students. We saw similar rises, for example, among Indian students coming to study in the UK,” he added

Speaking on the policy initiation, it is early to ascertain the impact of the policy on undergraduates because these changes were announced in 2023, but came into effect early this year and we would have to wait until September 2024 before we get the next run of academic tickets, he said.

“I think what your wider audience needs to hear is that the demand for UK education is really strong.

“In 2022, 65,000 study visas were approved to Nigerian applicants; while in September 2023, we received about 115,000 study visa applications from Nigeria, of which 95 percent were approved.

“Over 110,000 study visas were issued last September, compared to 65,000 of the previous year. There’s almost a doubling of Nigerian study visas in 2023, which means the demand is really high.

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”And it is something which I am genuinely pleased with and proud about that the UK has such a good higher educational sector and we are still at only 2.5 per cent of the global economy.

“So, we have 17 of the top 100 universities in the world. We have 17 percent of the top universities, so it is one of our units.

“I really like the demand, but there are other factors at play in terms of schooling in the UK.

“The value of the Naira in the coming months will also determine how easy or hard it will be for many people to afford our education.

“But I really hope that the number of people who bring dependents to UK may actually not be a majority, but a minority. ( NAN)

Chinenye Offor
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