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U.K varsities face bankruptcy over decline in Nigerian students, others

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U.K varsities face bankruptcy over decline in Nigerian students, others

The higher education sector in the United Kingdom (UK) is facing crisis as some universities in the UK battle financial challenges due to the decline in the numbers of international students, especially from India and Nigeria.

Several reports attribute the drop in the number of foreign students to the new UK policy that bans international students from bringing their dependants, (family members) to the UK.

In January 2024, the UK government implemented the new student visa route policy, which, according to them, was to reduce net migration.

“New government restrictions to student visa routes will substantially cut net migration by restricting the ability for international students to bring family members on all but post-graduate research routes and banning people from using a student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK,” the UK government stated.

Based on a report by the UK government, 486,107 sponsored study visas were granted to main applicants in the year ending September 2023. India had the highest number of sponsored study visas with 133,237, Chinese nationals were granted 108,978 sponsored study visas, Nigerians were issued 51,071 sponsored study visas while Pakistani nationals were issued 33,150 sponsored study visas.

The report further revealed that the number of dependants from Nigeria surged to 60,506 at the end of September 2023, rising by 59,079 from 1,427 in 2019 and exceeding the number of visas issued to main applicants by 9,435. India had the second highest number of dependants, increasing from 2,127 to 43,445 in the same period.

A recent report by The Times had stated that 15 UK universities are considering cutting down on cost and staffing, to deal with the drop in the number of foreign students.

“So far 15 universities this academic year have said they are considering cutting jobs, with many more announcing cost-saving plans that could lead to redundancies or courses being scrapped to save tens of millions,” the Times revealed.

The Times ascribes the collapse in application to the economic crisis in Nigeria, adding that the Indians are discouraged as the government cracks down on visas.

“An economic crisis in Nigeria that has led to a collapse in applications has been blamed by some universities for tipping them into the red, while Indian students are also being deterred as the government cracks down on visas,” the report stated.

Commenting on the situation, John Rushforth, Executive Secretary of the Committee of University Chairs, described the current situation as very serious, stating that bankruptcy is a realistic possibility for some institutions.

“I’ve been in higher education for 30 years and senior leaders are more worried than I’ve ever seen them. Bankruptcy is a realistic possibility for some institutions and universities are having to do really difficult things to stave that off. Taking fewer British students is a last resort but if you’re making a loss on something people have to consider it. Everything has got to be looked at because the situation is so serious.

Universities have to think hard about what they want to protect and make choices about divesting themselves of things that are not core to the institution. There will be less choice for students. A lot of institutions have introduced lots of modules so that students can pick and choose. That’s expensive, so it may be that you go back to more generic courses. Fundamentally, either you have to increase income, or you reduce quality or volume.” he said.

Also speaking on the issue, Rachel Hewitt, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, the association for modern universities opined that the economic crisis in Nigeria, occasioned by the high inflation rate and the existing tuition fee model presents difficulties for any university seeking to recruit from the country.

“The economic crisis in Nigeria presents difficulties for any university seeking to recruit from that country. The existing tuition fee model coupled with high inflation has seen their income fall year on year, meaning institutions have to make difficult choices and do more with less,” she said.

She blamed the government for its role in making Britain less attractive to investment and international students, adding that this damages both the higher education sector and UK plc.

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“It is impossible to imagine the government going out of its way to make Britain less inviting to investment in almost any other sector and yet every negative headline and policy reform that makes Britain less attractive to international students damages both the higher education sector and UK plc,” she stated.

As part of the UK government’s plan to reduce migration, James Cleverly, the Home Secretary of the UK, instructed the Migration Advisory Committee to conduct a rapid review of the graduate route visa and check for possible immigration abuse and exploitation of the graduate visa route. This is following his announcement in December that there would be a review of post-study work visas.

In a statement to James Cleverly, Dele Olawanle, a UK-based Lawyer urged the Home Secretary of the UK to let the foreign students breathe. He stated this through his X page, where he described the review of the Graduate Visa route to ascertain if foreign students are using education to get a visa as hypocritical and absurd, adding that foreign students, who pay exorbitant fees to study in the UK deserve to work therein, to get the UK experience.

“LET THE FOREIGN STUDENTS BREATHE”

I think @JamesCleverly the @homesecretaryuk being a former military man is using a military approach to dealing with immigration issues but it will not work. Immigrants, especially, foreign students pay extortionate school fees to get their degrees and they boost the local economies by paying rents, shopping, and bringing international experience to the country. They should not be stereotyped as parasites and they deserve to work to get UK experience after their studies in whatever field.

Experience is experience.

To say they want to review the Graduate Visa route to see if foreign students are using education to get a visa is hypocritical and absurd after collecting an average of £20000 per foreign student from the poorest countries in the world. A lot of British people talk like this due to a lack of exposure to where these ‘poor’ students come from and the pain they went through to raise the funds to sponsor their education,” he deplored.

He noted the probable consequential effects of the graduate visa route review on many universities, the local economies in towns near the universities, and local businesses.

“I can tell you what will happen. Many universities will collapse. The local economies in our towns near the universities will collapse.

Many local businesses will collapse. Many local people will be out of work.

@JamesCleverly and @RishiSunak should let the foreign students especially the black people breathe. Don’t take their money and block their way after squeezing them of their money,” he alerted.

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