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Growing Recruitment Numbers

and the Need for a Coordinated Support for Applicants.

In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, application numbers from Nigeria to the UK, took a quantum leap as the desireof Nigerian applicants to study in the UK has recently skyrocketed. The rise in numbers is associated with the re-introduction of the Graduate Route Visa permit, which allows international students post study work rights in the UK for a period of 2 years on successful completion of either a UG or PG degree, or 3 years for a PhD.

The UK has also enjoyed the early bird advantage, as it has been recognised as one of the study destinations that is fully open to International Students and even throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic. It can be noted that Nigeria was not only the top 5 nationalities granted sponsored study visas but had a significant percentage increase among the top 5 nationalities*1. This goes to show the level of confidence that Nigerians have in the quality of the UK education system, as well as a positive response to the incentive of the post study work visa.

With the increase in the number of student visa applications also comes the challenges of determining the genuine intention of visa applicants from Nigeria. Between September 2021 till date, we have observed a recent turn of events of the UKVI requesting for additional documents from visa applicants, requiring them to explain gaps in study years or provide additional information as regards funds lodgement in bank accounts submitted for maintenance purposes. These requests usually come after a student’s

application has been received by the UKVI, which on the long-run, adds to the waiting-time / turnaround time for visa application. It can be noted that some applicants are startled by the request, thereby being unable to respond properly, which has resulted to getting a refusal from UKVI.

In early 2022, application numbers are not dropping compared to previous years, in fact, the numbers are rising unexpectedly.

The experience from September 2021 entry and this January 2022 entry should make it imperative that applicants need to be supported not only to gain admission but also be able to obtain their student visa as well, as students’ enrolment rides

on the wings of a successful visa outcome. At this time more than ever before, HEI should do well to ensure that intending students are properly supported in the most cost-effective way.

At WIN Education Nigeria, we are proud of the support and guidance we provide to our students, which helps them navigate

the tough terrain of the visa application phase, thereby bringing them a step closer to the realisation of their dreams of obtaining a UK qualification and become a global player. Some of the challenges that Nigerians confront in a bid to obtain their student visa:

• Application Turnaround: In the past year, agencies have had to deal with lot of waiting-time due to the application turnaround time with many UK institutions. The reason for this is staff shortage, as the manpower responsible for international applications pre-covid seems to reflect unchanged staffing levels attending to admissions which has since more than tripled in volume. This has led to a lot of applications not being attended to within normal expected turnaround times.

• Meeting the Conditions on Offer: When applicants get a conditional offer, it brings them a step closer to their dream. However, in some instances, applicants are not able to progress further than this as they have a lot of bottlenecks to overcome with institutions here, in Nigeria. Some of the challenges they face range from difficulty in obtaining official documents such as transcripts, reference letters, their international passport, errors on WAEC certificates, etc. Where students get the conditional offer late, it leaves little or no time to obtain and provide all the documents required to meet the conditions on the offer and that invariably affects conversion success.

• Payment of Tuition Deposit: One area that most Nigerians struggle with is the payment of tuition deposit. In Nigeria, foreign education is covered by CBN policy on accessing FX for offshore payment. It should be noted that in some instances, the process can take as long as two months before payment can be realised via the commercial banks in Nigeria. The other options such as Online payment and Card payment are swift but seen by students as being more expensive compared to payment through the commercial bank.

• Tuberculosis Test: Scheduling an appointment for the TB test which is an important requirement from student visa applicants from Nigeria, is one area that has slowed down the visa application process for many. As early as June 2021, applicants encountered untold obstacles in order to secure an appointment for the TB Test which a number of institutions now request before issuing a CAS to their offer holders. Students had to schedule their TB test appointment up to 6 weeks ahead.

• Biometric Appointment: For January 2021, September 2021 and January 2022 entry, securing a biometric appointment has been a tug-of-war. We witnessed instances where applicants had to pass the night a couple of times at the Visa Application Centre before getting an appointment to have their biometrics done as part of the visa application procedures. At some points, applicants had to do a lot of monito