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Applications from Nigerians, other int’l students to UK plummet in Q1 2024

nigerian applications to the UK

In the first quarter of 2024, the United Kingdom witnessed a decline in the number of international students, including Nigerians applying for study visas.

Data from the UK Home Office reveals a sharp downturn, with only 40,700 applications for study visas between January and March 2024, marking a 79 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2023 when the UK received 72,800 study visa applications.

The decline can be attributed to recent changes in visa rules aimed at reducing immigration numbers.

Notably, the prohibition on international students sponsoring dependants with their study visas has dissuaded many students including Nigerians from pursuing education in the UK.

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), a shared admissions service for higher education in the UK had earlier reported a 46 percent decline in undergraduate study applications from Nigeria in February 2024 spotlighting the significance of residency and the presence of family and other dependants to international students during and after their studies.

StuRents, a student accommodation provider also reports a substantial demand loss in the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) market due to visa requirements and a depreciating currency in some countries.

Further insight

UK government data indicates that study visa issuances to Nigerians dropped by 63.4 percent by the end of 2023, representing a decline in applications following the UK’s announcement of new visa restrictions in July 2023.

The decline was also recorded among Indian student applications which fell by 13 percent in 2023. In contrast, Chinese students submitted more study visa applications.

Data from Enroly, a student enrolment platform used by about a third of UK universities show that the trend of declining Indian and Nigerian demand in 2023 has carried through to 2024.

For Nigeria, universities issued 71 percent fewer Confirmations of Acceptance for Studies in the January 2024 intake compared with the previous year and deposits were also 22 percent lower than in 2023.

Market intelligence for international student recruitment by ICEF reveals that UK business schools, which deliver various postgraduate-taught programmes, are also feeling the punch.

76 percent of 50 UK institutions responding to a Chartered Association of Business Schools survey said their non-EU enrolments had fallen in the January 2024 intake.

A Universities UK survey of 73 member universities found that on average, international student enrolments in postgraduate-taught courses starting in January 2024 were 44 percent lower than in January 2023.

What is expected

The UK Home Office intends to closely monitor the peak in student applications expected in August and September, traditional months for academic enrollment, to assess the full impact of the recent policy changes.

Between August and September 2023, there were 278,200 study visa applications to the UK, 230,600 of which were main applications and 47,600 applications from dependants.

This figure was an approximated 6 percent increase from 2022 when the UK received 262,700 study visa applications, of which 220,800 were main applications and 41,900 from dependants.

Nigerians and other international students in the UK are expectant as the Home Office announced that the Graduate visa, which offers a 2-year unsponsored work permit for overseas graduates of British universities, is under review by the Migration Advisory Committee.