Naira devaluation: Nigerian Teesside University students forced to interrupt studies and return home

Story Highlights

  • The drastic devaluation of Nigeria’s currency and high inflation have significantly affected Nigerian students at Teesside University, forcing many to discontinue their studies and leave the UK due to their inability to pay tuition fees on time.
  • Despite students’ pleas and efforts to negotiate payment plans, the university enforced strict visa compliance rules, which led to students’ accounts being frozen and their visas revoked, as the lack of payment violates the conditions of your visa sponsorship.
  • Affected students reported severe emotional distress and inadequate support from the university, despite the institution’s claims to offer individualized assistance and flexible payment options.

The drastic devaluation of Nigeria’s currency has affected the ability of Nigerian students at Teesside University in the United Kingdom to pay their tuition fees on time.

They have now been forced to interrupt their studies and leave the UK.

Some of these students, devastated by the situation, told the BBC they felt desperate at what they saw as the university’s callous handling of their payment difficulties.

According to a university spokesperson, the non-payment breached his visa sponsorship conditions, so the university “had no choice” but to inform the Home Office.

However, the Home Office clarified that decisions regarding visa sponsorship are the responsibility of the educational institution.

The news continues after this announcement.

High inflation in Nigeria

The economic crisis in Nigeria, described as the worst in decades, has hit hard and affected Nigerian students abroad, particularly at some UK universities.

With inflation approaching 30% and the government’s recent attempts to introduce a new currency exacerbating the situation, students’ previously verified funds to cover tuition and living expenses decreased significantly.

Additionally, changes at the university from a seven-installment tuition payment plan to three installments exacerbated students’ financial problems.

This group of 60 students shared their plight after some had their university accounts frozen and were involuntarily withdrawn from their courses for non-payment, and some also faced action from debt collection agencies employed by the university.

Complaints from aggrieved students

One of the affected students, Adenike Ibrahim, was about to finish her thesis after two years of study when she missed a payment.

Despite clearing his outstanding dues later, he was not allowed to re-register and was told to leave the UK with his young son.

“I didn’t make the payments, but I had already paid 90% of the tuition and attended all my classes.

“I called them and asked them to reach an agreement, but they don’t care what happens to their students,” he said.

He said the experience was “horrendous” and he didn’t know what was happening with his grade.

“It has been heartbreaking especially for my son, he has been very distraught since I told him,” Ibrahim added.

One master’s student, who preferred to remain anonymous, admitted to the BBC that he had considered suicide and had stopped eating and drinking since receiving his letter. Despite these dire circumstances, the university stated that it had made “every effort” to assist affected students by offering one-on-one meetings with specialized staff and creating personalized payment plans upon request.

Esther Obigwe reported that she had repeatedly tried to discuss her financial difficulties with the university, but received no response until she was also prevented from studying and ordered to leave the country.

“I attended all my classes and seminars, I am a tremendously active student,” she said.

“It’s discouraging, I’m on antidepressants now and being here alone, I have no one to talk to.

“For more than two months, I have barely eaten or slept and I don’t understand why they apply this to us, we didn’t do anything wrong.”

Jude Salubi, a student training to be a social worker, was in the middle of an internship when his university admission was suspended and he received a directive to leave the UK.

Prior to this, he traveled from Teesside to Liverpool every weekend to work 18 hours in an effort to clear his outstanding fees.

“So far I have paid £14,000 and have a balance of £14,000,” he explained.

Salubi expressed his willingness to negotiate a payment plan, stating, “I am willing to come to an agreement on how I will make this payment, but I need assurances that I will re-enroll in school and that my visa will be restored.”

Several students have managed to clear their outstanding dues; however, Teesside University has been unable to influence the Home Office process regarding his visa status.

No right of appeal

The Home Office informed the students, including Ms Ibrahim, that their permission to remain in the UK had been revoked because they were no longer enrolled at the university.

According to letters reviewed by the BBC, these students were given a specific departure date and told they did not have “right of appeal or administrative review against the decision.”

What the university says

A university spokesperson said that while Teesside University values ​​its diverse international student body, it must adhere to strict visa issuance and compliance rules that support the UK immigration system and are outside the university’s control. .

The university recognized the financial difficulties faced by some students and has offered customized payment plans, which many international students have accepted. However, according to them, some have not yet met the requirements of these revised plans.

The Home Office has maintained that decisions regarding visa sponsorship are the responsibility of the educational institution and advises people whose visas have been shortened or canceled to regularize their stay or make arrangements to leave the UK.