• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Only PhD students eligible to bring dependents to UK


The UK government has stated that only international students undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) study are eligible to sponsor dependents into the country.

The information was revealed by Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria during a conversation with Nigerian press on Sunday.

“Those coming to the UK for doctorate can still bring their dependency, but if you are coming to the UK with a study visa for an undergraduate degree, or short term master’s degree I’m afraid the rules have been changed,” he said at the meeting.

According to the commissioner, the decision comes as part of the recent changes in visa policies by the UK government to cut down on migration numbers.

He added that the high influx of foreign graduates put pressure on many universities in the country, grooming the policy that is just now implemented.

“There has been a surge recently, in demand for British education and I can give you the macro figures and there has also been a huge increase in foreign students bringing their dependants,” he said.

“In the case of Nigeria, in 2019, before the Coronavirus pandemic, there were only one and a half thousand dependents being brought in from Nigeria, with those on study visas. In 2022, that figure had increased to fifty two thousand dependants so that’s a thirty fold increase in dependence,” he added.

These figures weren’t exclusive to Nigeria however, as the commissioner says similar results were recorded amongst Indian students coming to study in the UK.

Nigerian student visas doubled in 2023

Universities Chancellors had complained of the huge student populations’ accounting for challenges with accommodation, access to medical services under the National Health Service and access to school when foreign student brought in dependents.

“Speaking on the policy initiation it is early to ascertain the impact of the policy on undergraduates because these changes were announced in 2023, but came into effect early this year and we would have to wait until September 2024, before we get the next run of academic tickets,” he said.

In 2022, 65,000 study visa applications from Nigeria were approved, a number that rose to about 115,000 in applications by September 2023, of which 95 percent were approved.

“There’s almost a doubling of Nigerian study visas in 2023 which means the demand is really high,” Montgomery said.

The high commissioner expressed concern for the uncertainty of the naira and its influence on the number of Nigerians that can afford UK education, but he says it could just be the lever to mitigate demand.

“I really like the demand but there are other factors at play in terms of schooling in the UK, the value of the Naira in the coming months will also determine how easy or hard it will be for many people to afford our education.

“But I really hope that the number of people who bring dependents in UK may actually not be a majority, but a minority of people have tried to study in the UK so am hoping that the demand will be sustained.”