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Japa: UK universities battle financial shortage as foreign students from Nigeria, India reduce

A number of the universities in the United Kingdom, UK, face bankruptcy as the numbers of international students from India and Nigeria – the most populous countries in Asia and Africa respectively – have declined....CONTINUE.THE.FULL.READING OF THE ARTICLE>>>

This might not be unconnected with UK policy that bans foreign students from bringing their dependants (that is spouses and children).

In 2023, data revealed that India and Nigeria had the highest numbers of immigrants to the UK with 253,000 and 141,000 respectively.

With the policy in place, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak-led government implemented to cut migration, it is understood that Indians and Nigerians are looking to other destinations that provide education and accommodation for their families.

Meanwhile, the UK’s policy is taking its toll on the universities as they deal with financial crises, according to The Times, disclosing that about 15 universities currently considering cutting jobs, and courses this academic year.

The report said many more have announced cost-saving plans that could lead to redundancies or courses being scrapped to save tens of millions.

Aside from the decrease in the number of non-research degrees students barred from bringing their families to the UK, the Home Secretary, James Cleverly also suggested that visas which allow students to work in Britain for two or three years after graduation should be scrapped.

Currently, students face fewer teaching staff, lower quality, and fewer options as universities struggle to reduce costs in response to a reduction in the number of wealthy foreign students.

University authorities have therefore warned of “really difficult” cuts, such as stopping entire courses and laying off academic staff, as a loss of one-third of international students threatens to put several institutions into the red.

Also, The Times disclosed that Nigeria’s economic crises might have caused a collapse in applications to UK universities while Indian students are also being deterred as the government cracks down on visas.

Tuition rates have effectively been unchanged for more than a decade, and with most colleges now losing money on domestic students, they have offset their losses with international students who pay significantly more.

Over the last four years, numbers have increased by 60%, reaching 560,000.

However, early acceptance data predicts a 37% decline in overseas admissions in the coming fiscal year.

Data from Nigeria will be down 71% after a sevenfold increase in enrolments in four years saw the country overtake the entire EU with 33,000 students at British universities.

Bankruptcy in UK universities

Speaking about the crisis, the Executive Secretary of the Committee of University Chairs, John Rushforth said, “I’ve been in higher education for 30 years and senior leaders are more worried than I’ve ever seen them … bankruptcy is a realistic possibility for some institutions and universities are having to do really difficult things to stave that off.

“Taking fewer British students is a last resort but if you’re making a loss on something people have to consider it. Everything has got to be looked at because the situation is so serious.

“Universities have to think hard about what they want to protect and make choices about divesting themselves of things that are not core to the institution. There will be less choice for students. A lot of institutions have introduced lots of modules so that students can pick and choose. That’s expensive, so it may be that you go back to more generic courses.  Fundamentally, either you have to increase income, or you reduce quality or volume.”

Universities to stop some courses

In the bid to discontinue some courses, humanities subjects and languages are bearing the weight of the losses.

The University of Kent has just disclosed plans to discontinue nine courses, including philosophy, contemporary languages, and comparative literature, while Aberdeen is scrapping single honors language degrees, and Winchester is discontinuing numerous humanities courses.

Oxford Brookes is dropping music and reducing its history department, while several other universities are planning unspecified cost cuts.

Impact of foreign students from Nigeria

Northumbria University, Newcastle is among those to have cited economic turmoil in Nigeria, whose currency has collapsed against the pound, for the need to make cuts in the face of a “very sudden reduction of the number of students” coming from the country.

A spokesman for Northumbria University said, “The university’s financial position was very strong but the current financial outlook is weaker than anticipated.”

“This is a consequence of a combination of fixed home undergraduate fees, difficulties around recruitment of international students, and the ongoing impact of inflation.”

Corroborating the submission, Rachel Hewitt, chief executive of MillionPlus, the group for newer universities, said, “The economic crisis in Nigeria presents difficulties for any university seeking to recruit from that country.

“The existing tuition fee model coupled with high inflation has seen their income fall year on year, meaning institutions have to make difficult choices and do more with less.”

According to the report from The Times, she also blamed ministers, saying, “It is impossible to imagine the government going out of its way to make Britain less inviting to investment in almost any other sector and yet every negative headline and policy reform that makes Britain less attractive to international students damages both the higher education sector and UK plc.”

About the author


JOLOWO BUNALAYEFA PIUS is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for BUNADY NEWSLITE GLOBAL ENTERPRISE (Bunady.com). He started his Blogging/Journalism career at God's Own Wireless Company 2012. He's a graduate of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko Ondo State, with a major in History And International Studies. You can contact him for press events, advertisement promotions on Email: contact.bunady@gmail.com

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