Some argue that the regulation will worsen labor shortages in crucial industries like healthcare and pose a threat to the country’s global reputation as a premier destination for international talent.
By Musa Ibrahim, Abuja
Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, has highlighted a significant surge in the number of Nigerian students studying in the UK over the past three years, with a fivefold increase.
Montgomery’s remarks were in response to his country’s recent announcement, which prohibits international students from being accompanied by family members as of 2024. He explained that this policy aims to manage the influx of migrants and prevent excessive strain on the housing infrastructure within the country.
“Many more students are trying to bring their dependents with them but it’s not always possible to find the housing and services to meet all the needs of all our existing student population; we’ll have to manage our migration in and out of the UK,” Montgomery told State House Correspondents after he emerged from a closed-door meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting on Wednesday takes place a month following the presentation of credentials by the newly appointed British envoy to Nigeria to former President Muhammadu Buhari on May 18.
Subsequently, on May 23, the UK Home Office announced a policy change that will disallow international students, including those from Nigeria, from being accompanied by their family members starting in January 2024. This decision has generated varied responses from international students, educational institutions, and certain British legislators. Some argue that the regulation will worsen labor shortages in crucial industries like healthcare and pose a threat to the country’s global reputation as a premier destination for international talent.
But in response to a question from PUNCH, the British High Commissioner gave reasons for the regulation saying, “I think there are two issues here. The first is, it’s not always possible to find the housing and services to meet all the needs of all our existing student population.”
“And second, reasonable people would accept that we have to manage our visitor numbers and we’ll have to manage our migration in and out of the UK just as the Nigerian government would do.
“That issue was not raised in the meeting (with the Vice President) just now. But I would like to put the media debate about it in a broader context. Last year (2022), for example, the UK granted three million new visas, of which 325,000 were to Nigerians.”