Nigerians and other immigrant students in the United Kingdom currently face a high-risk of deportation after completion of their studies.
This comes as the UK Home Secretary, Suella Braverman and the Department of Education debate over the issue of post-study visas for international students.
According to UK media reports, Braverman is currently seeking to cut down the amount of time foreign students can stay in the UK after graduation.
Reports state that Braverman has committed to cut immigration and ‘substantially reduce’ the number of unskilled foreign workers coming to Britain, from 239,000 to the ‘tens of thousands.
In addition, she wants to reduce the number of international students who can apply for a graduate post-study work visa, which allows any student who has passed their degree to remain and work in the UK for at least two years.
But the Department for Education is said to be resisting Braverman’s plan to cut that to just six months, after which they have to have a skilled job that makes them eligible for a work visa or leave the UK.
Currently, students who come to the UK to study can stay behind for two years after graduation. This has attracted many Nigerians also because the UK is typically the first country of choice for international education.
This is not unconnected to the poor state of academic facilities and the poor standard of teaching in Nigerian academic institutions.
Reports indicate, “Education officials fear this will make the UK less attractive to foreign students, who pay far more than UK students for their courses and are a major source of income for universities”.
Data from the UK’s home office showed that the number of study visas awarded to Nigerians rose by 222.8%, as 65,929 tickets were issued as of June 2022, compared to 20,427 in the same period in 2021.
In a similar vein, other reports show that Nigerian students and their dependents in the UK made an estimated £1.9 billion contribution to the country’s economy.
According to figures for the 2021–2022 academic year, a total of £54.3 million in taxes were paid by the working spouses of these students, who also paid a reported sum of £680,620,000 in school fees.
With bated breath, all stakeholders await the outcome of this fiasco.