Prime Minister Sunak’s Advice To Foreign Students in Britain


The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, has advised Nigerians and other foreign students studying in Britain that success in life does not have to be achieved by going to higher education.

Sunak, in a short tweet on Wednesday, said, “You don’t have to go to university to succeed in life.”

While Sunak did not mention Nigerian students specifically, his comment comes at a time of challenges for international students in the UK, particularly those from Nigeria and Iran.

Hundreds of students studying in the UK have been warned they may be unable to graduate or re-register for the next academic year if they fail to settle outstanding debts.

Some institutions, like the University of Sussex, have warned students, mostly migrant students with outstanding debts, that they may face obstacles in continuing their studies.


One unnamed Nigerian student at Sussex who has outstanding debts said: “We have no intention of not paying; we’re willing to meet our obligations, but we’re pleading for the university to grant us some time.

“Since the exchange rate tripled, my monthly income of £800 is barely enough to cover the £182 weekly accommodation, leaving me struggling to survive as a student in Brighton.”

Another student, Adenike Ibrahim, told the BBC that she was close to handing in her dissertation at the end of two years of study when she missed one payment and was then kicked off her course and reported to the Home Office.

She subsequently paid the outstanding fees, but said she had not been re-enrolled and was told she must leave the country along with her young son.

“I did default [on payments], but I’d already paid 90% of my tuition fees and I went to all of my classes,” she said.

“I called them and asked to reach an agreement, but they do not care what happens to their students.”

She said the experience was “horrendous,” and she did not know what was happening with her qualifications.

“It has been heartbreaking for my son, especially; he has been in so much distress since I told him,” Ms. Ibrahim added.

Among those affected are Nigerian and Iranian students struggling to pay fees after their home currencies crashed.

Nigeria is currently facing a severe economic crisis after the value of its currency dropped sharply amid reforms introduced by President Bola Tinubu, who came into office a year ago, aimed at balancing its economy.

It is experiencing nearly 30% inflation, with the price of some key goods, such as rice, more than doubling in less than a year.

The developments at Sussex follow a similar incident at Teesside University, where Nigerian students were expelled and ordered to leave the UK for falling behind on fee payments.

Some universities withdrew students who missed their fee instalments and informed the Home Office after some students’ savings were wiped out when the value of Nigeria’s currency crashed.

The university said it had “no choice,” as failure to pay was a breach of visa sponsorship rules. It said it had made every effort to help the affected students, including bespoke payment plans.

The number of Nigerian nationals studying in the UK has soared, growing from 6,798 in 2017 to 59,053 by December 2022, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of dependents has also risen sharply, from 1,586 in 2019 to 60,923 last year.

ONS noted an increase in study-related visas granted to dependents of Nigerian students, rising from 19 per cent in 2019 to 51 per cent in 2022.

“By nationality, Nigeria saw a large increase in the proportion of sponsored study-related visas granted to dependants, from 19 per cent in 2019 to 51 per cent in 2022,” said the ONS in February.

In response to record migration levels, the UK government has introduced stricter immigration policies targeting overseas university students.

These measures include preventing students from bringing family members and banning the transfer from student visas to work visas post-graduation.

Overseas students will be prevented from switching “out of the student route into work routes” before their studies have been completed.

Sunak’s statement, however, has come under a lot of criticism on social media, with some criticizing his ideology and others being of the

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