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Teesside: UK varsity expels Nigerian students over school fees

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Teesside University, United Kingdom, students protest high-handedness of the institution (Courtesy: BBC)

Some students of Nigerian origin from the Teesside University in the United Kingdom are protesting after Home Office ordered them to leave the country following their inability to pay school fees.

The students were sent off campus and ordered to leave the UK following their inability to pay tuition fees on time. 

A group of Nigerian Teesside students were seen holding placards Tuesday morning, protesting at the campus.

It was learnt that the students’ inability to pay the fees was as a result of the recent soaring foreign exchange since the advent of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led government.

How the Naira affected students of Teesside University

Naira, the Nigerian currency has lost more than half of its value since Tinubu assumed the mantle of leadership, depreciating by over 100% against the Dollar in a year. 

Just today, May 22, 2024, the United States Dollar exchanged for as high as 1495 Naira.

The Euro exchanged for 1590 Naira, while the British Pound went for as high as 1880 Naira.

At the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), there was not much comfort as the US Dollar exchanged for 1482.375 Naira

The Euro went for 1610.1557 Naira, while the Pounds sold for 1882.468 Naira.

Some projections are that the United States Dollar may exchange for as high as 2000 Naira by the end of 2024.

This is far cry from the 750 Naira per Dollar economy former President Muhammadu Buhari administration left it.

Inflation has also seen its worst in the country, standing at 33.2%, the highest since March 1996.

Teesside University students face deportation

Little surprise, then, that Nigerian Teesside University students were blocked from studies for failing to pay their fees.

BBC report also stated that the students, besides being asked to depart the UK have been reported to the Home Office.

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According to the report, the Home Office told the students that their permission to enter the UK had been cancelled.

The letter even indicated a date by which the student must leave the country.

It also indicated that they do not have a right of appeal or administrative review against the decision. 

Students say they feel “suicidal”

Some of the students who spoke with the BBC said they felt suicidal.

BBC reported that they accused the university management of taking a “heartless” approach to those who fell into arrears as a result of the soaring foreign exchange. 

Presently, some of the affected students have managed to pay off their outstanding fees.

Worse yet, the university told the BBC that it is now unable to intervene in the Home Office process.

BBC reported the university spokesman as saying:

“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 reportedly added that the university was aware of 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.

Quoting the Home Office, the report said: “A decision to offer or withdraw visa sponsorship rested with the sponsoring institution.”

Quoting the spokesman, it stated further: “Wherever a visa was shortened or cancelled, individuals should “take steps to regularise their stay or make arrangements to leave the UK”. 

Teesside University, Home Office trade blames

Teesside University spokesman said failure to pay was a breach of visa sponsorship requirements, adding that it had “no choice” but to alert the Home Office.

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The Home Office, on the other hand, said visa sponsorship decisions rested with the institution. 

Some of the affected students, meanwhile, are accusing Teesside University of being “heartless”.

They insisted they were told they had to show proof of having enough funds to pay tuition fees and living expenses before beginning studies.

They also accused the university of changing tuition fee payment plans from seven instalments to three. 

BBC reported: “However, those funds were significantly depleted as a result of the crisis in their home country. 

“This exacerbated financial problems already being experienced by students as a result of the university changing tuition fee payment plans from seven instalments to three.”

A group of students are reportedly pressing the university for support after a number of people who defaulted on payments were frozen out of university accounts and had to involuntarily withdraw from their courses. 

Nigerian students abroad

Studying abroad has always been an exciting and enriching experience for Nigerian students.

Some favourite choices, aside from the Teesside University in the United Kingdom, are:

China

China, with 38 Chinese universities ranked in the latest QS World Rankings, China is a favorite destination for Nigerian students.

Approximately 7,000 Nigerian students currently study in China.

Living costs typically range between $750-$1,250 per month.

Also, tuition fees vary from $3,000 to $9,000 per year, depending on the program.

United States of America

Over 12,000 Nigerian students are currently enrolled in American universities.

Student visa rules allow part-time work during the semester (20 hours per week) and full-time work during academic breaks.

Tuition fees in the USA can range from $10,000 to $55,000 per year, depending on the institution.

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Canada

Canada is another popular choice for Nigerian students.

It offers high-quality education, diverse cultural experiences, and post-graduation work opportunities.

Figures for Nigerians students are not mentioned in the search results, though.

Germany

Known for its strong engineering and technical programs, Germany attracts international students, including Nigerians.

Many programs are taught in English, and tuition fees are relatively low compared to other countries.

Others

United Kingdom (UK)

The UK has a long history of welcoming Nigerian students.

It offers a wide range of courses and has prestigious universities, similar to Teesside University.

However, living costs can be higher in cities like London.

Norway

Known for its quality education system and stunning natural landscapes, Norway is an attractive option for Nigerian students.

Some universities offer tuition-free education for international students.

Russia

There is a large community of Nigerian students in Russia, especially in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Voronezh.

Russian universities are known for quality education system and foreigners’ friendly programmes and protocols.

One such Moscow university is even named after an African, Patrice Lumumba, and also called International Friendship University.

Ukraine

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine also boasted a large community of Nigerian students.

The war has, however, seen a sharp decline in the number of Nigerian students in the country.

Interested persons are advised to research thoroughly, explore scholarship opportunities, and follow the correct visa application process for the chosen country.


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