Thursday, May 23, 2024

Nigerian students in UK expelled, forced to leave country amid currency crisis

The Home Office clarified that the authority to offer or withdraw visa sponsorship rests with the sponsoring institution.

• May 22, 2024
Nigerian students in UK
Nigerian students in UK used to illustrate the story

Some Nigerian students in the UK have been expelled from their courses and ordered to leave the country due to a currency crisis that has left them unable to pay tuition.

Students from Teesside University were prevented from attending classes, with numerous citing the devaluation of the naira as the reason for their depleted savings, rendering them unable to afford their fees.

Speaking to the BBC, some students described the toll on their mental health, with some experiencing suicidal thoughts and depression due to the university’s strict handling of payment defaulters.

Nigeria, grappling with an inflation rate of nearly 34%, is undergoing its worst economic crisis, impacting various sectors including Nigerian students abroad.

Teesside University requires students to show proof of funds to cover their studies and living expenses. However, with the naira depreciating by 100% against the dollar in a year, these funds have significantly diminished.

Additionally, the university’s shift from seven instalment payments to three has exacerbated the financial strain on students.

Adenike Ibrahim, a student nearing the end of her two-year study, missed one payment and was subsequently expelled and reported to the Home Office.

“I did default on payments, but I had already paid 90% of my tuition fees and attended all my classes,” she said.

Although she paid the outstanding fees, she has not been re-enrolled and was ordered to leave the country with her young son.

The Home Office informed defaulting students that their permission to stay in the UK was revoked because they were no longer enrolled in their studies.

A letter from the Home Office indicated a departure date and stated that students had no “right of appeal or administrative review against the decision.”

Another student, Esther Obigwe, stated, “I attended all of my classes and seminars. I’m an active student. It is disheartening. I am now on antidepressants and have nobody to talk to here.”

A university spokesman said, “Teesside University is proud to be a global institution with a diverse student population, but we must comply with visa regulations. These external regulations are beyond the university’s control.”

“The university is aware of the financial challenges faced by some students and has offered bespoke payment plans where requested.

“However, some students have still defaulted on these revised plans.”

While some students have managed to pay their outstanding fees, the university is no longer able to intervene in the Home Office process.

The Home Office clarified that the authority to offer or withdraw visa sponsorship rests with the sponsoring institution.

A spokesman said that if a visa is shortened or cancelled, individuals should “take steps to regularise their stay or make arrangements to leave the UK.”

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