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Nigerian students in UK varsity face deportation over unpaid fees

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Teesside University in the United Kingdom has expelled several Nigerian students and initiated their deportation over unpaid fees, citing compliance with UK immigration regulations.

According to BBC report, the university stressed its commitment to visa issuance and compliance obligations.

Some students, who spoke to the British paper, expressed feelings of despair and accused the university of being “heartless” in handling their financial difficulties.

The university, however, maintained that it had no choice but to report non-paying students to the Home Office, as failure to pay tuition fees breaches visa sponsorship requirements.

The Home Office reiterated that visa sponsorship decisions lie with the educational institution.

Nigeria is currently experiencing its worst economic crisis in a generation, with average inflation nearing 34%.

The attempt by former President Muhammadu Buhari to replace old currency exacerbated the situation, causing the naira to depreciate by over 100% against the dollar within a year.

This devaluation has severely depleted the funds students had initially shown to secure their visas and commence their studies.

Meanwhile, the financial problems were compounded when Teesside University changed its tuition fee payment plan from seven installments to three, making it even more difficulty for affected students to meet their financial obligations.

Students who fell behind on payments faced harsh consequences. The university blocked their access to university accounts, withdrew them from courses, and reported them to the Home Office, jeopardizing their visas. Some students were even contacted by debt collectors

One such student, Adenike Ibrahim, was close to completing her dissertation after two years of study when she missed a payment. Despite subsequently paying her outstanding fees, she was not re-enrolled and was told she must leave the UK with her young son. “It has been heartbreaking for my son especially,” she said, describing the experience as “horrendous.”

The Home Office letters to students, seen by the BBC, state that their permission to stay in the UK has been canceled due to their cessation of studies, with no right of appeal against the decision. This has led to severe emotional distress among the students, with one anonymous master’s degree student admitting to suicidal thoughts.

Esther Obigwe, another affected student, said she had repeatedly tried to discuss her financial struggles with the university but received no response until she was blocked from her studies and told to leave the country. “I’m a very active student,” she said, now on antidepressants and struggling to eat or sleep due to the stress.

Jude Salubi, studying to be a social worker, was midway through a placement when he was told he would have to leave the UK. Despite working weekends to pay off his fees, he still owed £14,000. “I need guarantees that I will be re-enrolled and my visa restored,” he said.

Teesside University stated that it had made “every effort” to support affected students, offering bespoke payment plans and individual meetings with specialist staff. However, some students still defaulted on these revised plans. The university emphasized its commitment to supporting a robust immigration system, noting that visa issuance and compliance are subject to strict external regulations.

As the Home Office can no longer intervene in the visa process for those who have managed to pay their outstanding fees, the affected students are left in a precarious situation, highlighting the profound impact of Nigeria’s economic crisis on its international students.

 

 

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