Nigerian students are to be banned from working in Britain under a fresh crackdown on immigration ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May.
According to the new order, the students will have to leave the country once courses finish, before reapplying to return for a job.
The new rules, which does not apply to only Nigerians but also to students from other countries outside the European Union is aimed at stopping immigrants from using colleges as a ‘back door to a British work visa’.
Nigeria is the 3rd largest country after China and India that sends a large number of its students to study in the UK. While the UK is not about to stop the international student market which is worth more than $17 billion dollars, it is putting stricter rules in place which may discourage foreign students.
The UK has a genuine reason for the new rules. According to official figures, 121,000 non-EU students entered the UK in the 12 months to June last year, but only 51,000 left – a net influx of 70,000. The government estimates that the number of foreign students coming to the UK will rise by more than 6 percent a year up to 2020.
Home Secretary May has therefore taken action against 870 bogus colleges, banning them from taking foreign students. But it won’t end there as the Conservatives have vowed to go further, especially without the Liberal Democrats in power to force the rules to be watered down. The final goal is to stop student visas being used as an easy way to enter the UK before getting a job and claiming benefits.
If the crackdown is achieved, several Nigerian students who study abroad with the hope of honing their skills for a few years after graduation before returning to Nigeria may have to find an alternative to British study.
Several study agents in Nigeria who make millions of naira from student placements every year may also lose a large market.
In the UK, business leaders are also not in tune with the plans by the government.
Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills at the Institute of Directors, said: “The Business Secretary’s proposals to eject foreign students after graduation are misguided and would damage the British education system, our economy and global influence.
“Britain already makes it difficult and artificially expensive for international students to enter and stay, and now these proposals would eject them ignominiously when their studies are finished.
“Restricting talented workers from staying on in the UK would damage business and lead to a loss of important skills.
“Shutting the door to highly-trained international graduates at a time when our economy needs them most would be hugely damaging for UK businesses.
“In the interests our education sector, our businesses, and our international standing, the Business Secretary should reconsider this proposal,” he said.