• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Teesside University orders Nigerian students to leave UK following payment crisis

Protesting Teesside students

Teesside University has stopped the programmes of Nigerian students and ordered them to leave the United Kingdom following a payment crisis due to the naira fluctuations.

According to a BBC report, the currency crisis has plagued a burden on the students, leaving them struggling to pay tuition fees after which they were blocked from their studies and reported to the Home Office.

Before beginning their studies at Teesside, affected students were told they had to show proof of having enough funds to pay tuition fees and living expenses but the depreciation of the naira has wiped out their savings exacerbating their financial woes.

Nigeria is currently experiencing an economic crisis as the naira has plummeted against the dollar by over 100 per cent in one year posing financial constraints for students studying abroad.

The students’ financial problems became compounded as Teesside changed its tuition fee arrangement from seven instalments to three, an approach some considered to be “heartless”.

Some 60 students who shared their names with BBC have called for support from the university after several people who defaulted on payments were frozen out of university accounts and involuntarily withdrawn from their courses.

Adenike Ibrahim was on the verge of ending her two-year study when she missed one payment and was then kicked off her course and reported to the Home Office.

She subsequently paid the outstanding fees, but said she had not been re-enrolled and was told she must leave the country, along with her young son.

“I did default [on payments], but I’d already paid 90% of my tuition fees and I went to all of my classes,” she told BBC.

“I called them and asked to reach an agreement, but they do not care what happens to their students.”

She described the experience as “horrendous” and is yet to know the fate of her qualification.

“It has been heartbreaking for my son especially, he has been in so much distress since I told him,” Ms Ibrahim added.

In another account, Esther Obigwe said she repeatedly tried to speak to the university about her financial struggles but received no response, until she too was blocked from her studies and received notice to leave the country.

“I attended all of my classes and seminars, I’m a hell of an active student,” she told BBC.

“It is disheartening, I am now on antidepressants and being here alone, I have nobody to talk to.

“For over two months, I’ve barely eaten or slept and I don’t understand why this is being meted at us, we didn’t do anything wrong.”

She added that most of the students had “spent a lot of money to be here”.

Jude Salubi, who was studying to be a social worker, was midway through a placement when he was told his access to the university was suspended and he would have to leave the country.

Salubi had to travel from Teesside to Liverpool each weekend to work 18 hours in an attempt to pay off the outstanding fees.

“As of now I have paid £14,000 and have a balance of £14,000,” he said.

“I am willing to come to an agreement as to how I will make this payment, but I need guarantees that I will be re enrolled into school and my visa restored.”

Meanwhile, a university spokesman who spoke with the BBC had said failure to pay was a breach of visa sponsorship requirements, and that it had “no choice” but to alert the Home Office.

The Home Office said visa sponsorship decisions rested with the institution.

Teesside University is proud to be a global institution with a diverse student population but is also very aware of its obligations regarding visa issuance and compliance.

“These strict external regulations ensure that the university fully supports a robust immigration system and is outside of the university’s control.”

The spokesman added it was “aware of the challenging financial situation faced by some students” and had “actively offered bespoke payment plans where requested”.

“This option has been taken up by many of our international students; however, some students have still defaulted on these revised payment plans,” he said.