Nigeria’s current realities, including high inflation, unemployment and fragile economic growth, are forcing some of its citizens to migrate to other countries, in search of greener pastures.
One of such countries that have got their attention is the United Kingdom, which has introduced immigration routes and work opportunities for foreign students in a bid to create clearer pathways to immigration.
For example, its graduate route post-study visa introduced in July 2021 helps Bachelor’s and Master’s degree holders to be able to live and work in the country for up to two years, while Ph.D. holders can live and work for up to three years.
According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of Nigerian students studying at UK universities rose year-on-year by 63.5 percent to 21,305 in the 2020/2021 academic year, the highest on record.
The number of students is also higher compared to other countries like Canada (13,745) and America (12,860).
Additionally, the number of sponsored study visas granted by the UK increased by 529.5 percent to 58,887 in the first quarter of 2022 from 9,355 in the same period of 2020, data from the British government show.
“There has been a sharp increase in visa issuance to Nigerians in the last two years,” Toyyib Adelodun, a UK-based immigration consultant, said.
Adelodun said the UK has opened up more to the commonwealth nations since Brexit and COVID-19. “They want 600,000 international students to come to their country every year.”
So, if you want to apply for a UK student visa, here are the things to note.
Research and apply to your university of choice
Before applying to any university programme, make sure you meet the necessary qualifications.
A recent blog post by Study International says once you have obtained a conditional offer from the university, you will need supporting documents to send to the school such as a transcript of your academic qualifications, curriculum vitae or resume (postgraduate study), a copy of your passport and a reference/recommendation letter.
Other documents are a personal statement and an English Language qualification such as International English Language Testing System, West African Examinations Council and Test of English as a Foreign Language.
“Some schools will ask for a statement of purpose like why you are studying there, the course, plans or goals,” said Dotun Adeleke, an official at Management Education and Training Limited.
Adeleke added that once you send these documents to the school, they will evaluate and make an admission decision depending on your course. “If you are able to meet the requirements, they will notify you if they are considering you.”
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letter
A CAS letter is a document issued by the institution that confirms you have been accepted for study. It contains a unique 14-digit reference, which the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will use to confirm that you are a genuine student of the school you want to study.
University College London, one of the top public universities in London, says the CAS number is valid for use for six months from the date the student visa is issued. “It can be used only once for a single application and you can only obtain it once you have an unconditional offer.”
Proof of funds
According to the British government, it is a bank-slip, bank statement or certificate of deposit that shows you have held enough money to cover your course fees and your monthly living costs for up to nine months.
“You must show that you have held the required money for (at least) a consecutive 28 day period which ends within the 31 day period before you paid your visa fee online,” the British government says on its immigration website.
Some immigration consultants say most university tuition for international students is between £10,000 and £13,000 and that some schools ask for between £2,000 and £5,000 deposits to issue the CAS.
“Let’s say your school fee is £10,000. Out of that amount, you pay £2,000 to get your CAS. You now have a £8,000 balance, add your living expenses for nine months, put the naira equivalent into your account for circa 30 days,” Adelodun said.
“Then print that statement and add it to your application. The amount that the UK embassy classifies as living expenses is £1,334 per month if you live in London, outside London is £1,023,” he added.
Oludayo Sokunbi, chief executive officer at Japaconsults, advised applicants to understand the tuition fee payment terms and conditions.
He said: “Some schools will allow you to pay deposit fee and then pay the remaining twice or thrice or five times.
“One person needs an average of N10-15 million to successfully pay tuition fees, apply for a visa, and settle for the first three months. For every other person moving with you, add an additional five million naira on average.”
Tuberculosis test (TB) results
You’ll need to have a tuberculosis (TB) test if you’re coming to the UK for more than six months.
Study International recommends that you visit the Migration Health Assessment Centre at the International Organisation for Migration to do your TB screening, as it is the only centre recognised by UKVI.
“It costs about N57, 800 and you’ll get your test results on the same day. There are currently two centres in Nigeria: one in Abuja and another in Lagos,” the platform added.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
ATAS is a certificate only applicable to students and researchers outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland, intending to study or research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects such as Advanced Conventional Military Technology, weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery.
After submitting the necessary documents online, you’ll be brought to a TLS webpage to make two payments: a health surcharge (approximately $900) and a visa application fee (about $478), according to Study International.
“Once you’ve made your payments, you’ll have to schedule an appointment on the same website to visit a UK Visa Application Centre to provide your biometric information (fingerprint and photograph),” it said.
There are three UK Visa Application Centres in Nigeria: Abuja, Lagos (Ikeja) and Lagos (Victoria Island).
“Once you submit your biometric information, it will take about 15 working days to process a standard student visa and five working days for a priority student visa. It also pays to check relevant government websites for the latest travel details,” it added.