Foreign

UK Varsity Unveils Flexible Payment Plan For Nigerian Students

TEESSIDE University in the United Kingdom has rolled out a more flexible payment plan for Nigerian students, according to the chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

Dabiri-Erewa made the disclosure during a press conference ahead of the National Diaspora Day Celebrations 2024, scheduled for July 25 in Abuja.

She highlighted that the new payment arrangements aimed to ease the financial burden on Nigerian students while maintaining their responsibility to pay tuition fees.

“The students are going to pay their fees. It is not charity, but they have devised ways that can be a bit more convenient,” she said.

For students nearing the completion of their payments who faced expulsion, an agreement now allows them to finish their payments and receive their certificates once all fees are settled.

“For those who were almost done with payment and were told to leave, they agreed that they would pay their fees but would not receive their certificate until they completed their payment,” Dabiri-Erewa explained.

The NiDCOM boss, however, noted that Teesside University is not the only institution where Nigerian students face financial difficulties.

“We are working closely with the student organisations in the UK and the Nigerian Mission to address these challenges,” she added.

The announcement comes in the wake of financial crises that have left many Nigerian students struggling. A significant shift from a seven-installment to a three-installment payment plan by the university exacerbated the situation, with many students unable to cover their expenses. A local food charity reported that 75% of its clients are now Nigerian students, underscoring the extent of their financial hardship.

Teesside University had expelled a group of Nigerian students due to delayed tuition payments, citing the devaluation of the naira as a major obstacle. This breach of visa sponsorship requirements led to students being locked out of their university accounts, reported to the Home Office, and ordered to leave the UK.

The affected students, numbering 60, expressed deep distress and disappointment, accusing the university of being unsupportive and “heartless.”

The Federal Government intervened on May 29, 2024. A delegation led by Amb. Christian Okeke from the Nigerian Embassy in the UK, along with leaders of the Nigerian Students Union in the UK, met with Teesside University’s management to seek a resolution.

Dabiri-Erewa also addressed broader issues driving Nigerian migration, such as economic instability, security concerns, and inadequate living standards. She emphasized that this year’s National Diaspora Day theme, “Japa Phenomena and its Implications for National Development,” reflects the growing concerns over youth migration.

“Factors such as economic instability, security concerns, and inadequate standard of living are ranked high among reasons for the exodus of Nigerians abroad,” she said.

“The consequence of this phenomenon is the decline of strong human resources because most of the Nigerians relocating are the youths. This, in turn, makes a downward turn on labour and productivity in the country.”

Despite these challenges, Dabiri-Erewa urged Nigerians to adopt a positive outlook. “We have to turn our lemons into lemonade. Today, we change the story by celebrating those vibrant Nigerians who are making positive impacts in the Diaspora and making the country very proud. Also, those who, while abroad, are contributing positively to national development,” she concluded.

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