Why UK's Teesside University Ordered Nigerian Students to Leave

Teesside University in the United Kingdom has discontinued the courses of some Nigerian students and ordered them to leave the country. This action was taken due to the ongoing naira crisis, which has made it difficult for students to pay their tuition fees on time. The university has blocked these students from continuing their studies and reported them to the Home Office after the devaluation of the Nigerian naira depleted their savings.

Some students have expressed feelings of despair to the BBC, criticizing the university for its unsympathetic approach towards those unable to make payments on time. A university spokesperson explained that failing to meet payment obligations violates visa sponsorship requirements, leaving them no choice but to inform the Home Office.

The Home Office stated that decisions regarding visa sponsorship are up to the educational institutions. Nigeria is currently facing its worst economic crisis in decades, significantly impacting Nigerian students in some UK universities. With inflation nearing 30%, the situation worsened when the country's president attempted to introduce new currency notes.

Before beginning their studies at Teesside, students were required to demonstrate sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses. However, due to the crisis back home, these funds quickly ran out. The university's change from a seven-installment to a three-installment payment plan for tuition fees has exacerbated the financial difficulties for many students.

A group of sixty students who shared their plight with the BBC have urged the university for support after their accounts were frozen and their courses were involuntarily terminated for non-payment. Debt collectors contracted by the university have reportedly contacted some students.

Adenike Ibrahim, who was nearing the completion of her dissertation after two years of study, was dismissed from her course and reported to the Home Office after missing a payment. Although she later settled the outstanding fees, she was not re-enrolled and was instructed to leave the country along with her young son. Despite having paid 90% of her tuition and attending all classes, her requests for a payment arrangement were ignored. She described the experience as devastating, especially for her son.

The Home Office informed students, including Ms. Ibrahim, that their permission to stay in the UK was revoked due to their discontinuation of studies. The letters issued specify a deadline for leaving the country and state that there is no right to appeal against this decision. Since receiving the notice, one master's degree student has reported severe distress and suicidal thoughts.

Despite the hardships, the university claims to have made every effort to support affected students, offering individual meetings with specialist staff and customized payment plans upon request. However, some students, like Esther Obigwe, who attempted several times to discuss her financial struggles with the university, received no response until her access to studies was blocked and she was told to leave the country.

Jude Salubri, studying to become a social worker, was informed midway through a placement that his access to the university was suspended, and he must leave the country. He had been working part-time to cover his fees and expressed a willingness to negotiate the remaining balance if his enrollment and visa could be restored.

While some students have managed to clear their outstanding fees, the university is unable to intervene in Home Office procedures. The university spokesperson highlighted Teesside's commitment to being a global institution aware of its obligations regarding visa issuance and compliance, emphasizing the stringent external regulations that ensure the university supports a robust immigration system.

The Home Office reiterated that the decision to offer or withdraw visa sponsorship rests with the sponsoring institution, and affected individuals may seek to regularize their stay or arrange to leave the UK.


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James Otabor is a Freelance Writer and Social Media Expert who helps finance professionals and startups build an audience and get more paying clients online. Mr Otabor is based in Lagos State Nigeria

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