London Met University Visa Axe: Our Failing As A Nation By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni
If by November 23rd, 2012, the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA), refuses or fails to reverse its revocation of London Metropolitan University’s visa status and the case instituted by the varsity strikes no cord, close to 1500 Nigeria students studying in the University who cannot secure alternative admission in other schools might face deportation from UK.
On 30 August 2012, the UK Government revoked London Metropolitan’s highly-trusted status (HTS) for sponsoring international students, on the findings that a quarter of students studying at the university did not even have permission to stay in the country. UKBA also revoked the existing visas of the University’s pre-existing non-European foreign students, which automatically terminates their studentship and left them in the limbo of seeking admission somewhere else irrespective of the number of years already spent.
London Metropolitan University (London Met), England, United Kingdom, was established on 1st of August 2002, following the amalgamation of the University of North London (formerly the Polytechnic of North London, established in 1896) and London Guildhall University (formerly the City Polytechnic, established in 1848). It has a population of 28,525, about which close to 3,000 are Non-Europeans and over 1,500 are Nigerians. This high number of immigrant students can only be attributed to weak educational structures in migrant countries.
With concentrated reference to Nigeria, the picture of our educational system is more pathetic. With annual budget of N304.3bn (2011) and N400.15bn (2012), don’t be amazed that, half of this never got used on the sector despite that its low compared to the annual budget for Defense and Security. With a total of 123, both government and privately owned, universities; 36 Federal Universities, 37 State Universities, and 50 Private universities. With a collective carrying capacity of about 470,000, and judging from the number of admission seekers that sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in 2011 which was 1,493,603 candidates, only 467,000 gained admissions. And in 2012, 1,503,931 candidates sat for the UTME.
Following the stopping of visa privilege of London Metropolitan University by the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) and the subsequent protest and appeal, I hope UKBA, for humanity reasons, would retrace its step and lift the ban despite our government’s heartbreaking silence. The Nigerian Home office, amidst the outrage on the privileges of Nigerian Students in the UK, had been unceremoniously silent. Aside Nigeria, I doubt if any reasonable government would be placid with the welfare of its citizens abroad. We are just one country that care less on things that matter the most. Even the presidential spokesmen seemed tongue-tied. They can’t make comment on the state of our education but can gladly tell us, ” the First Lady is not sick, she only went abroad to relax”. Shame!
The London Metropolitan University case has again brought to the fore some salient issues as regards our derailing educational structures, tertiary education to be specific. For the purpose of this piece, we shall be considering three aspects; Funding, which has remain abysmally low for a country that has its eyes on Vision 2020. Monitoring, which seems politically handicapped or not in existence and Integration, that has never really worked. On funding, Nigeria only allocated 8.43 percent of its 2012 budget to education, while United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s recommendation for nations that want to attain sustainable development mark stands at 26 percent.
Despite this catastrophic under-funding of the educational sector, the few that gets budgeted never gets expended on the sector as under-hand dealings leaves many educational projects abandoned or not executed at all, thereby, leaving baggage of problems; inadequate classrooms, libraries stocked with archaic textbooks, low staff-student ratios, half baked or illiterate graduate, non-committed staff e.t.c It is the unavailability of a conducive learning environment that has led thousands of Nigerian students to foreign lands.
The Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Dr. Wale Babalakin at a recent function said that over 75,000 Nigerian students are studying in the three Ghanian Universities, and spend over N160billion annually. He also opined that, the students’ expenditure was more than what the Federal Government budgeted last year for all the public Universities in the country. If I may ask, how do we develop in this kind of atmosphere? No Nigeria University at present is amongst the best 1000 in the world! This shows how bad our tertiary institutions have degenerated.
Though the National University Commission often tries to live up to the billing but still fall short of adequately monitoring of our tertiary institutions as mushroom universities that worth even less for secondary schools sprout every now and then with University licences. Even though it is generally agreed that the country needs more varsity to cater for its teaming admission seekers, the approvals by NUC looks more political than merit laden, when human resource(personnel) and infrastructure are considered. And according to UK Immigration minister, Damian Green, the major reason behind London Met Visa axing was “serious systemic failure”. But despite the enormous system failure here, the authority views it better to keep mute or give an all is well analysis. Do I still need to tell you why out of every 10 graduates, 6 are unemployable?
According to the UK Immigration Minister, 142 of 250 (57%) sampled student’s records from London Met had attendance issues, which means they hardly attend classes? Except Nigerians want to lie to themselves, how many of the youths who leave the country on the pretense of going to study abroad end up doing so? Admission abroad is usually an opportunity to leave Nigeria with its woes of socio-economic disabilities and the few that ends up in school had to take up menial jobs to cover their fees. This, to a large extent, may account for their absenteeism but UK authorities would be killing the vision and aspirations of these determined immigrants by booting them out. The authorities at London Met have established that non-European student in the University are just 11% but the school generates 32% of its income from them.
The United Kingdom authority needs to understand that international students contribute immeasurably to its socio-economic, political and cultural values. Between 2010 and 2011, total estimation of overseas undergraduates studying in the UK peaked at 48,580. That is a figure of undergraduates and intellectual pool that cannot be shoved aside or ignored by a development sensitive government. If UKBA, have issues with London Met, it can penalize the institution via other means, penalizing legitimate international students for the sins of London Met is disproportionate and damaging to UK’s international reputation. As the “Mother of Common Wealth Nations”, the UK government needs to be brought to notice that its indiscriminate action on students with UK visa would have a spiral effect on its ex-colonies. And, considering the decline in education, in most part of sub-sahara Africa, this action might drag the continent into a gully too large to scale. The deficiencies of London Met need not be made the problem of innocent students who had toiled soil and blood to get to the UK in the first instance.
Until African Leaders understand that higher education is not a luxury but economic necessity that would bring about sustainable development, they would continue to subject their citizen to ridicules of this magnitude. One thing we fail to understand in this part of the world is the destructive implications of brain drain. If our government claimed ignorance during the slave trade era, their prompting us to enslave ourselves and get abused and humiliated in this globally conscious era leaves much to be desired of a supposed government of the people. I rest my case.
Tweet Handle: @sanity0407
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org