UK Universities Face Admissions Slump as Nigerians Turn to Canada

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United Kingdom universities are grappling with a substantial drop in admissions from international students, particularly from Nigeria. This downturn is attributed to the UK Home Office’s dependant visa ban policy, initiated under the former interior secretary, Suella Braverman, with repercussions unfolding as early as this academic year.

The dependant visa ban policy, effective from January 2024, restricts migrants, including Nigerians, from bringing family members with them. The policy’s intent, as stated by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, is to prevent overburdening the UK’s housing infrastructure and to control the influx of migrants.

Reports indicate that UK universities and business schools are grappling with the aftermath of this policy, struggling to meet their admission targets for the current academic year. A survey by the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) reveals that nearly half (44%) of the country’s business schools anticipate falling short of their non-EU recruitment targets this year.

Of the institutions surveyed, 29% reported exceeding their non-EU recruitment goals, and an additional 27% met their targets. However, a significant 44% reported falling below their recruitment goals. At the postgraduate level, almost 50% of schools reported recruitment significantly or moderately below target for non-EU international students.

The survey highlighted variations in enrolment trends among non-EU international students, with substantial increases noted from countries such as India, Pakistan, and Ghana. In contrast, countries like China and Nigeria have seen declining enrolments, potentially indicating a reversal in the growth observed in recent years.

As a consequence of the dependant visa restriction policy, the report revealed a decline in admissions from Nigerian and Chinese students. Furthermore, it noted a shift in preference toward Canadian and Australian universities, which are perceived as more migrant-friendly destinations.

The report outlined a decline in the number of international students seeking admission to Master in Business Administration (MBA) programs, particularly from Nigeria and China. This shift in preferences may alter the global landscape of business education.

With the UK facing a decline in international student admissions, other countries are benefiting. Canadian and Australian universities are emerging as attractive alternatives for students affected by the UK’s stringent visa policies, signaling potential shifts in global academic migration patterns.

The British government, announcing the dependant visa restrictions in May 2023, disclosed that nearly half a million student visas were issued in 2022. As universities navigate these challenges, the full impact of these policy changes on the UK’s higher education sector remains to be seen.

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