The United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to restrict international students’ ability to bring dependents with them beginning in 2024 is not intended to discriminate against Nigerians but rather to safeguard UK infrastructure given the recent increase in international students bringing family members.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery stated this on Wednesday after he met with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the State House, Abuja.
He acknowledged that the number of Nigerian students enrolling at universities in the UK surged fivefold in just three years, along with the overall number of international students.
While this is a “fantastic success story for our universities,” Montgomery continued, it is not always easy to secure accommodation and services for the large number of people moving to the UK with their families.
In an effort to prevent people from using student visas as a backdoor to obtain employment in the UK, the UK Home Office said in May that it will limit international students from bringing family members with them starting in 2024.
When asked if he and the Vice President had addressed migration between Nigeria and the UK, the British High Commissioner replied that they had not, “but I would like to put the media debate about it in a broader context.”
Montgomery said, “Last year (2022), for example, the UK granted three million new visas, of which 325,000 of those visas were Nigerians. So, Nigerian visitors constitute over 10 per cent of the people coming to London and the UK.
“On the issue of student visas, I’ll also like to provide a context. The number of Nigerian students coming to the UK has increased five folds in the last three years. It’s a fantastic success story for our universities. And we are really delighted that so many Nigerians are coming to the UK.
“The issue about restrictions on people bringing dependents, that’s partly not because of Nigeria but many parts of the world, many more students are trying to bring their dependents with them.
“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 secondly, we’ll have to manage our visitors’ number, we have to manage migration in and out of the UK just as the Nigerian Government does.”