With UK immigration personnels focused on managing refugee influx building up as a result of the war in Ukraine, there has been an increased backlog of travel applications from other countries especially for those intending to travel for academic purposes.
This situation has left prospective students from many countries including Nigeria stranded and not able to quickly process their travel requirements before the September school commencement as they normally should.
In a recent social media broadcast, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said, “In previous years it might have been okay to apply in August for a visa to start your studies in September, [but] this year that’s going to be much much too late.
“The reason for this is that UKVI, our visa and immigration processing system, is under enormous pressure. You will all be aware of the horrible humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and we have had to prioritise processing visas to people trying to get out of that horrible war zone. So, please help us to help you, to make sure you get to the UK in September for your studies.”
Education experts we spoke to are of the opinion that the rush by Nigerians is fuelled by prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the upcoming 2023 general elections which is a leading cause of uncertainty for many citizens.
“The issues are a bit deeper than immediately apparent, but the main causative factors are Nigeria’s worsening insecurity, spiralling economy, and rising unemployment,” said Tosin Adebisi, UK education expert and Independent Consultant with boutique PR & Marketing firm, Vive Africa.
“According to our recently released Market Sentiment & Study Motivations Report, many Nigerians are very unsure about their future prospects in the country making it hard to ignore factors such as post-study visas and better employment opportunities that the UK has to offer.”
Nigerians who have the wherewithal to pursue international education opportunities are constantly seeking ways to expedite the processing time of their UK study applications so as to beat the commencement deadline for September higher education cycle.
“I am not surprised at the record numbers of applications this season. A peek into the number of people — usually in their tens of thousands — who attend regular influencer-anchored social media meet-ups organised by Vive Africa and their likes will give you a feel of the scale of interest and engagement we are talking about,” said Emeka Ndukwe, an education policy expert based in Abuja.
The UK government will most likely find ways with which to navigate itself and innovate around its current travel processing challenges before the next wave of prospective students hit their portals for the January 2023 intakes.