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Indian and Nigerian students shun British universities amid immigration clampdown

Indian and Nigerian students shun British universities amid immigration clampdown
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As part of government efforts to tighten immigration controls, Nigerian and Indian students are choosing not to enrol at British colleges.

According to data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), there were 1,590 Nigerian applicants for undergraduate programmes this year, a 46% decrease from the previous year.

Applications from India have decreased to 8,770, a four percent decrease.

Nonetheless, the total demand from non-EU international students has surged to an all-time high, with applications up 1.5% to 95,840 this year—an increase of 83% since 2015.

Demand has increased from countries including China, Canada and Turkey.

The fall in demand from Nigeria and India comes after the Government introduced new rules in January banning all foreign students except those doing postgraduate research from bringing family members to the UK.

Before the changes were introduced, all international masters students were able to apply to bring dependants.

Most overseas undergraduates were previously barred from bringing family members.

However, overseas student representatives and UK universities said that prospective candidates were being put off by negative government rhetoric around international students.

Amit Tawari, president of the Indian National Students Union Association, said: “It’s very sad for students back in India to read that Britain doesn’t want them as migrants.

“When a British student goes to America to study, he or she is not a migrant, they are a student. But any international student coming here is considered a migrant. That’s a bit crazy.”
He added: “It’s a broken model. What international students get when they arrive is not what is promised in the glossy brochures. What they see in real life is a cost-of-living crisis, and a lot of them can’t even find accommodation.”

“I’ve heard lots of stories of ten students having to stay in one room together.”

Cynthia Tewogbade, student welfare coordinator for the Nigerian Student Union UK, told the Telegraph: “The new dependency policy is the main reason why students are now enrolling at universities in other countries like Australia, Canada and in Europe.

“The UK can be a lonely place. Not having a familiar face around has deterred students from coming over, especially as many suffer from isolation and a big culture shock when they arrive.”

Ian Dunn, provost at Coventry University, said that the Government’s dependants policy has “sent a shiver through the market” for universities dependent on funding from international students.

Overseas students pay up to four times as much as British students, whose tuition fees have effectively been frozen at £9,250 for the past decade.

The Ucas figures show there has been a one per cent decline in university applicants from England and Wales compared to last year, a two per cent decline in applicants from Northern Ireland and a two per cent rise in applicants from Scotland.

A total of 316,850 18-year-olds from the UK have applied to courses this year – and Ucas said the figure was the “second highest on record”.

This puts the application rate for UK 18-year-olds at 41.3 per cent, down from 41.5 per cent in 2023.

Lowering entry requirements

The data show that overseas students make up 9.7 per cent of all applications, up from 5.7 per cent in 2006 and the second highest on record after 2020, when they accounted for 10.2 per cent.

The figures come after allegations, denied by universities, that they are lowering entry requirements for international students who pay higher fees.

Universities UK, which represents around 140 institutions, announced this month that it would review international student admissions processes following allegations of “bad practice” by agents recruiting overseas students for UK universities.

Vivienne Stern, chief executive of Universities UK said: “Universities are currently facing a challenging international student recruitment landscape – with recent changes to visa and dependant rules, ongoing negative rhetoric, uncertainty around the graduate visa – all combining to create a highly unpredictable picture.

“Last year despite an increase in non-EU applications, there was then a decline in acceptances and enrolments – and early indications around spring 2024 enrolments suggest likely further declines.”

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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