The news that Nigerian students will now face new restrictions on moving to the United Kingdom (UK) with their families even for studies has devastated so many. One can only recall the quote from the movie, Titanic, when Jack said, “It hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body. You can’t breathe. You can’t think. At least, not about anything but the pain.” I meet a lot of Nigerians in different countries as Afrobeat artists and most of them are schooled in those countries.
As a consultant in education, I have firsthand experience in assisting individuals seeking to emigrate to various parts of the world. We have so many Nigerians willing to subject themself to lengthy scrutiny and the paper works to acquire the best education in the world. The process ensures all spellings, and everything must be accurate to the last full stop.
According to an analysis conducted by SBM Intelligence, a leading geopolitical research consultancy, Nigerian students and their dependents contributed an estimated £1.9 billion to the UK economy within a year, specifically during the 2021/2022 academic session. If we account for the influx of the 2022/2023 period, this figure could double. Undoubtedly, this is a substantial amount.
Should the UK miss out on this opportunity due to a few bad apples that have manipulated the system?
It is a fact that there will always be individuals who exploit systems, but should the entirety of Nigerian students in the UK suffer for the transgressions of a few? Nigerians significantly contribute to the UK economy. The presence of Nigerian students has made the UK a more popular holiday destination for Nigerians, thereby contributing even more to the UK’s GDP.
Policymakers need to comprehend that the decision of Nigerians to relocate to the UK is by no means an inexpensive one. The minimum wage in Nigeria stands at around 30,000 Naira, while the average salary (the highest occurring figure) hovers close to 70,000 Naira. Consequently, an average Nigerian cannot afford to travel to the UK, let alone with dependents.
To embark on a journey to the UK, the minimum expenditure would exceed 3 million Naira (and that is a very conservative estimate). An average Nigerian would have to work tirelessly for four years without utilising a single kobo of their salary to finance such a move. Oftentimes, the individuals that can finance their immigration journey are young professionals employed in top sectors such as banking and technology—Nigeria’s brightest minds.
Consequently, only the most talented individuals who have achieved a certain level of success within Nigeria actively seek to leave, leading to a significant brain drain in the country.
Many of these individuals are newly married or have been married for less than five years. With this new policy, are they expected to abandon their spouses for two years? Over the years, Cogent Education Consultancy has been providing quality education destinations for smart Nigerians who believe they can compete with the best in the world. We also take care of all the logistics involved, and we have rich data on Nigerians who have graduated or are still in school globally.
The age of free media and social media, where information is shared without verification, has led many to mislead others with half-truth information about Nigerians’ desire to acquire education.
The trendy video features a Nigerian UK-based YouTuber named, Emdee Tiamuyu, who in an interview with the BBC asserted that Nigerians traveling to the UK for better education are escaping the economy in what is now known as Japa syndrome. In the video, he expresses his thoughts regarding Nigerians relocating with their families to the UK for educational purposes. As an education consultant.
When Emdee Tiamuyu asserted that most Nigerians do not wish to utilise their acquired certificates after graduating but simply desire an escape from Nigeria, was he insinuating that after investing substantial amounts of money to study Business Analytics in the UK, one would willingly choose to stack crates at Tesco?
As an education consultant to many Nigerians planning to immigrate with their families, I propose that while it’s easy to comprehend the allure and comfort the UK holds, considering its proximity and the fact that almost every Nigerian currently knows someone residing in the UK, making the settling-down process relatively easier, it is imperative to explore alternative options such as Canada, Australia, and other European countries.
Undoubtedly, schools in the UK surpass, if not all, most Nigerian educational institutions in terms of quality in tuition and infrastructure among others. The allure of quality education, a conducive environment, and a promising post-graduation life are evident. However, it is crucial to acknowledge the contributions made by these Nigerians. Should we allow a few bad apples, who are the exception rather than the rule, to break families apart?
Considering the best minds in Nigeria are actively contributing to foreign economies, this unquestionably represents a loss for Nigeria itself. However, do the leaders genuinely care about this predicament? That is a topic for another day.
Canada, Australia, and other European countries may not be easier or cheaper, but at this juncture, there is little one can do to alter the circumstances. Beginning in January 2024, the Home Office has imposed restrictions on foreign students bringing their family members with them.
Nigerian is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, King Charles, the new monarch of Britain is the Head of the Commonwealth. so what’s the benefit of Nigeria being a highly-ranked member of the Commonwealth? The French-speaking African nations have always benefited from the policies of assimilation implemented by France and they have easy access to travel to France.
This policy will primarily affect course-based master’s students who plan to bring their families with them during their studies. From Monday, January 1, 2024, international students will no longer be able to bring dependants to the UK with them, unless the student is taking a postgraduate research programme which is mainly for PhD students. Current applications to 2023 courses will not be affected by this change.
In addition, international students will no longer be allowed to switch from student routes to work routes before finishing their studies. The terms of the Graduate route will stay the same, meaning that students who stay to look for work in the UK after graduating may still apply to bring their family into the country at that time which they must have graduated.
Lastly, addressing Emdee Tiamuyu directly, whom I liken to a class captain consistently reminding teachers about pending assignments. Always remain patriotic to your country when you travel out because the people you rubbish your country to will never do the same to their country but they will remember what you said about yours.
.Mofe Boyo is an artiste and the CEO of Cogent Education Consultancy
(This article is her response as she throws more insight into the recent United Kingdom policy on students seeking better education opportunities abroad. The policy came soon after a UK-based Nigerian YouTuber, Emdee Tiamuyu, granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) an interview).