In a significant move aimed at curbing the high influx of migrants, the United Kingdom (UK) government is set to announce new restrictions that will likely prevent Nigerian students and students of other nationalities studying in the country from bringing their families over.
The crackdown is expected to be unveiled later this week and will primarily affect masters and many postgraduate students, while exempting PHD students due to their high skill level and longer course durations.
The decision comes as the UK grapples with a skyrocketing net migration figure of 1 million, prompting concerns among Tory MPs who are urging Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to take decisive action.
UK ministers are expected to declare the immigration clampdown on Tuesday or Wednesday in an effort to address the escalating numbers.
Speaking on the issue, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, acknowledged the surge in people coming to Britain by leveraging their relatives’ student visas.
He highlighted the staggering statistics, stating, “Students brought 135,788 family members to Britain last year – nine times more than in 2019.
Last year, 59,053 Nigerian students brought over 60,923 relatives. We have got to get a grip.”
It is worth noting that the UK government had previously considered banning foreign students from bringing spouses and children to the country unless they pursued “high-value” degrees, such as science, maths, and engineering.
The Prime Minister and the home secretary, Suella Braverman, have expressed growing concerns over the nearly eightfold increase in the number of family members accompanying foreign students.
In 2022, Nigerians accounted for the highest rise in the number of dependents joining individuals with study visas.
Additionally, Nigerian nationals witnessed the largest increase in sponsored study grants, making them the third-largest nationality group in the latest year.
The latest immigration figures revealed that 490,763 students were granted visas last year, with 135,788 dependents accompanying them— a substantial jump from the 16,047 recorded in 2019.
However, these proposed restrictions have faced criticism from universities and members of parliament across party lines.
They argue that foreign students contribute approximately £35 billion annually to the UK economy, citing research to support their stance.
As the UK government prepares to implement stricter immigration measures, the impact on foreign students, particularly Nigerian students, is expected to be significant.
The debate over striking a balance between immigration control and the economic benefits brought by international students is likely to intensify in the coming days.