UK university orders some Nigerian students to leave the country

Some Nigerian students studying at Teesside University have been asked to leave the United Kingdom (UK) for failing to pay their fees, the BBC reported On Wednesday.

The students, who had previously proven to have sufficient funds to pay tuition and living expenses, said they could no longer meet after their funds were significantly depleted as a result of the depreciation of the naira over the past year.

President Bola Tinubu floated the naira to unify exchange rates in official and unofficial markets. It worked at first, but the naira immediately lost much of its value in a trend that has continued for almost a year.

Last August, PREMIUM TIMES reported how some academics sponsored by the Nigerian government through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to study in Malaysia wrote to the government, requesting bailout funds. They cited that the floating of the naira affected their maintenance.

TETFund later said it had received similar calls from academics in India and Kenya.

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The academics said it became necessary to seek bailouts “to ameliorate the financial constraints occasioned by fluctuations in the exchange rate due to the CBN’s new Naira floating policy, the impact of the pandemic and the current economic reality.”

‘Breach of visa sponsorship’

A spokesperson for Teesside University told the BBC that the Nigerian students’ non-payment was a breach of visa sponsorship requirements and that it had no choice but to alert the Home Office.

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The Home Office told the students their permission to enter the UK had been canceled because they stopped studying at the university, adding that decisions about visa sponsorship rested with the institution.

The students were given a deadline to leave the country and told they have no right to appeal or administratively review the decision, the BBC reported.

One of the students who spoke to the BBC, Adenike Ibrahim, said she was about to hand in her thesis at the end of two years of study when she failed to make a payment and was then expelled from her course and reported to the Home Office.

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READ ALSO: FEC approves new visa regime, payment of airport tickets by high-ranking Nigerians and others

Although she had already paid the outstanding fees, the student said she had not been re-enrolled and was told she had to leave the country.

The university said it had done everything it could to support affected students, who had now been offered one-on-one meetings with specialist staff and personalized payment plans upon request.

However, one student, Esther Obigwe, said she repeatedly tried to speak to the university about her financial problems but received no response, until she too was prevented from studying and received a notice to leave the country.

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