‘Traumatising’ forex policy blamed for students’ woes

Some Nigerian students who had been accepted at universities in the United Kingdom have had their enrolments cancelled and had to return home because they were unable to pay their tuition fees on time due to a lingering foreign exchange (forex) crisis in the Nigerian banking system.

The affected students had reportedly requested forex from their banks in Nigeria and asked the banks to remit the money to their universities’ accounts, yet the funds were not processed in time.

Students at the University of Hull have had their enrolment cancelled, according to Pépèr-Hadé Shóyemí, the convener of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), UK chapter.

Micheal Obakhavbaye, the NANS UK president, said there have been similar reports of cancelled enrolments from Nigerian students at other universities and some of them have been contacted by the UK Visas and Immigration and told to return to Nigeria, adding that some have since left the UK.

“We have advised all our students to not live in the UK illegally and obey the authorities. Those who have managed to pay the enrolment fee but were late were also asked to go home. The students are literally stuck after spending so much to come to the UK,” he said.

The University of Hull did not provide an exact figure, although University World News requested these details. According to a statement to University World News, a “small number” of Nigerian students have been affected.

Spokesperson Stella Harkness said the school is aware of the complexities of making payments, including delays at banks, and that it has been working with student representatives to resolve the issue.

The university was able to permit late enrolment for some students, but for others this was not possible and these students have been offered deferral to 2023.

The statement reads: “We greatly value our Nigerian student population. Along with other UK universities, we have found some students from various countries were late for enrolment deadlines this year.

“For a large number of students, who had evidence of extenuating circumstances, we were able to permit late enrolment. Unfortunately, for a small number this was not possible.”

Nigerian banks blamed

Form A is an application form designed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to pay for service transactions (invisible trade) like foreign tuition, foreign training courses and foreign medical bills. The service allows students to pay for foreign tuition via the central bank at an official forex rate rather than using the black market with a wide margin.

The fact that the students were unable to have their Form A processed necessitated NANS UK to write a letter to Ambassador Sarafa Ishola, the Nigerian high commissioner to the UK, urging him to use his good offices to resolve the crisis.

In a NANS UK letter dated 16 November, co-signees Shóyemí and Obakhavbaye pleaded for an “urgent intervention” to avert the impending deportation of the affected students.

“The late enrolment is not the fault of the affected students, but [that of] Nigerian banks [that] refused to process their money and remit it to the school,” the letter read. “We seek your timely intervention in making our dreams of studying in the UK become realities.”

In solidarity, the NANS Nigeria chapter has appealed to the federal government to intervene in the crisis faced by the Nigerian students in the UK.

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