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Foreign Students: UK Varsities May Fall Into Deficit, Says Report

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Many universities in the United Kingdom are at risk of falling into financial deficit due to the astronomical decline in international students after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ban on bringing dependants into the country.

The PUNCH reports that the Home Office of the United Kingdom announced that it had commenced the implementation of its policy banning Nigerian students and other overseas students from bringing in dependants via the study visa route.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the Home Office reiterated that only those on postgraduate research or government-sponsored scholarship students will be exempted from the development.

We are fully committed to seeing a decisive cut in migration. From today, new overseas students will no longer be able to bring family members to the UK. Postgraduate research or government-funded scholarships students will be exempt,” the Home Office said.

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Meanwhile, Financial Times on Friday reported the chief executive of Universities UK, Vivienne Stern, who represents more than 140 universities, said the sector was facing the prospect of a “serious overcorrection” thanks to immigration policies that deterred international students from coming to study in Britain.

“If they want to cool things down, that’s one thing, but it seems to me that through a combination of rhetoric, which is off-putting, and policy changes . . .[they have] really turned a whole bunch of people off that would otherwise have come to the UK,” Stern told the Financial Times.

Stern’s plea came as it emerged that some top universities, including York, which is a member of the elite Russell Group, were being forced to soften their entry requirements in order to maintain numbers of overseas students.

“The government needs to be very careful: we could end up with, from a policy point of view, what I would consider a serious overcorrection,” she added.

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With the £9,250 domestic tuition fee effectively frozen for the past decade, UK universities have increasingly relied on non-EU students to make ends meet, with fees from non-EU students now accounting for nearly 20 per cent of sector income.

Universities are warning privately that numbers have softened sharply this year following a series of hostile policy moves by the government, with indications that enrolments may have fallen by more than a third from key countries, including Nigeria and India.

One senior university insider told the FT that the sector as a whole had been “spooked” by data that showed the number of international students taking up places in January 2024 was “way below the bottom end of projections for everyone”.

In January, Sunak highlighted changes in government policy to stop international graduate students from bringing family members to the UK, adding the policy was “delivering for the British people.”

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The government also announced in December that it was reviewing the so-called “graduate route” enabling international students to work in the UK for two years after they graduate and announced a crackdown on “low-value courses”, even though only 3 per cent are failing to meet criteria set out by the regulator.

Data from Enroly, a web platform used by one in three international students for managing university enrollment, showed that deposit payments were down 37 per cent compared to last year.

A new analysis for UK by consultants PwC found that the combination of falling international student numbers, frozen tuition fees, rising staff wage bills, and a softening in UK student numbers was leaving the sector facing a perfect storm.

“You take those things together, and you’ve got a big problem,” Stern said, warning that the government needed to wake up to the risk posed to a sector that contributes £71bn to the UK economy every year.

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The PwC analysis was based on 2021-22 financial returns for 70 UUK members in England and Northern Ireland and found that about 40 per cent are expected to be in deficit in 2023-24, falling to 19 per cent by 2025-26.

However, Paul Kett, a former senior Department for Education official who now advises PwC on education, said the numbers reflected assumptions about spending and income growth that now looked highly optimistic given the policy environment.

The PwC analysis found that if the growth in international students stagnated in the 2024-25 academic year, the proportion of universities in the financial deficit would rise from 19 per cent to 27 per cent — but if numbers started to fall between 13 and 18 per cent then four-fifths would be in deficit.

On the other side of the ledger, it found that increasing fees by 10 per cent for UK undergraduates in 2024-25 would shrink the share of universities in deficit from 19 per cent to 7 per cent.

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The report said the effects of declining international enrolments could be compounded by other negative shocks, such as a rise in spending growth or a fall in domestic student numbers. It warned that mounting financial pressure could force universities to cut provision and delay investment, compromising quality for students.

Stern argued three interventions were necessary to put the sector on a stable footing: uprating tuition fees in line with inflation, increasing government teaching grants and stabilising the international market by dialling down negative rhetoric and ending question marks over the graduate route.

“You can take these individual scenarios that PwC looked at, and think that any one of them could tip a large number of institutions into a very difficult position, but the problem is that lots of those things are happening at once,” she said.

Robert Halfon, higher education minister, said: “We are fully focused on striking the right balance between acting decisively to tackle net migration, which we are clear is far too high, and attracting the brightest students to study at our universities,” he added.

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Climate Change: Foundation Trains Students On Impacts, Adaption

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Group photograph of students, teachers and the foundation staff

In a bid to mitigating the effect of climate change in our society, a non-profit organisation, LILBECKKING DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION in conjunction with The Social Change Nest, recently trained and enlightened students from selected secondary schools in Benin on how best to cope with the present situation.

INFO DAILY reports that the programme which was held at Leaders College, Ugbiyhoko, Benin, had in attendance: Stone Bridge Academy; Hallmark International School; Joyce Scholars Educational Centre, all in Benin city.

INFO DAILY also reports that 33 students and few teachers were trained and enlightened in the programme themed: ‘Youth Action on Clean Energy.’

Cross section of students trained during the training programme.

Enlightening the students, Secretary of the foundation, Mr. Destiny Aigbokhae, said climate change has significant impacts on youths and young people, hence the training.

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He said the focus was to train young ones so that they too “will be able to spread the message on climate change, it impacts and how best to adapt to it.”

Mr. Destiny Aigbokhae taking the students during the programme

According to him, “climate change does not just affect our lives alone, but it affects us socially and economically.”

Enumerating health risk, disrupted education, limited economic opportunities, inter-generational equity, etc, as impacts of climate change, Aigbokhae urged the society to embark on recycling of waste as a way of mitigating climate change.

He said to mitigate climate change, there’s a need for electrification of industrial processes; greater use of renewable energy and efficient means transport implementation.

 

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Wike Lists His Priorities As FCT Minister To British High Commission

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Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, has told the British High Commission in Abuja that security, agriculture and job creation are among the top priorities of the FCT Administration.

The minister made this statement when he received a delegation from the British High Commission in Nigeria led by the British High Commissioner, Richard Montgomery, on a courtesy visit to the FCT Administration on Tuesday.

The British High Commissioner had sought to understand the priorities of the FCT Administration for the development of the FCT in order to improve bilateral relations.

Responding, Wike said the creation of jobs, especially in the agricultural sector, is being prioritized to ensure that the teeming youth in the FCT are provided with a source of livelihood. He added that the FCT Administration, in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has also provided the necessary support to the security agencies to address the security challenges in the FCT.

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He said the ongoing provision of infrastructure in the Abuja city center and the Area Councils, apart from accelerating the development of the FCT, are also avenues for job creation for the youths who would be engaged during the course of the projects.

According to the Minister, “When you say priority, creation of jobs is key. If you are not able to create jobs, of course, you know what that will mean for the teeming youths. So, we believe that the creation of jobs is not only in the white-collar sector. Through these activities, many of the youths are employed.

“If you go to the area councils today, there are lots of jobs going on that have created opportunities for the youths to be employed. So, the creation of jobs is a priority for this administration.”

Stressing that the FCT has vast arable lands for agriculture, the FCT Minister also expressed the readiness of the FCT Administration to collaborate with investors in the agricultural sector to create employment for youths and promote food security.

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We have to remove the youths from the streets. So, we believe that in partnering with investors in the area of agriculture, that will also create jobs. So, that, in fact, to us, is a major priority. We will be interested if we can see partners in these areas,” the minister stressed.

Wike also added that the FCT is open to investments and collaborations in the tourism sector to make the city a major tourist attraction.

Speaking further on the security challenges in the FCT, the Minister stated that remarkable improvements have been achieved in the last few months due to the level of support and commitment of the security agencies.

The FCT Minister, who blamed the heightened insecurity in the FCT in the recent past on the activities of kidnappers and bandits, from the states sharing borders with the FCT, noted that the security agencies have done quite well to tame the activities of the bandits and other criminal elements.

He expressed confidence that the improved security in the FCT will also increase investors’ confidence in the nation’s capital.

We cannot say that we have been able to solve all the problems, but it is important to know that we are making progress, particularly on the issue of security, which has been a source of concern, not only to residents but the diplomatic community,” Wike said.

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Alleged Diversion Of Palliatives: Sacked Kogi Council Boss, Atawodi Breaks Silence

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Hassan Atawodi, the sacked Transition Chairman of Ofu Local Government Area, has opened up on why he was removed.

The Secretary to Kogi State Government, Folashade Arike Ayoade, had on Monday announced the sack of Atawodi in a statement by Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo, for allegedly diverting palliatives meant for his local government.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Atawodi said he was removed from office courtesy of some political leaders who do not like him.

He added that the palliative meant for Ofu LGA was not handed over to him, saying, “How can I divert what was not given to me?”

While noting that it was a gang-up against him, as there was no time he diverted any palliatives meant for his people, Atawodi stressed that he was denied the clearance letter that would have allowed him to collect the palliative.

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“My travails began from the first day I was appointed, possibly because I was not the choice of some alleged power brokers in my local government. After signing for the palliative for Ofu, the next day I could not get the clearance letter because of orders from above.

“Upon assumption of office, I appointed my five aides and six special advisers. Later, they reported me to the powers that be that I made the appointments without consulting them.

“They went to the extent of sending pictures of somebody I appointed to say he was a member of an opposition party.

“I was asked to meet with the Leader of the local government in the company of the House of Assembly member, the local government, and the zonal party chairmen, which I did and asked that they should please forgive me, following their report, with a call on them to please join me so that we can work together.

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“Following my appeal to those who reported me over the appointment, I was asked to dissolve the aides I appointed, which I did by going on air as promised and dissolved all the SSAs.”

The former Transition Chairman said he is innocent of the allegations of diversion of palliatives leveled against him, calling on the State Governor of Kogi State to look into the matter critically, as the said palliative was never handed over to him.

Continuing, he said, “I was not given a palliative to share. On hearing about the palliative, I went to the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, who said there is an instruction for me not to be given the palliative.

“The ommissioner asked me to put a call across to the Deputy Governor before it could be released. I called from the morning through till about 4:00 pm on the said day, without my calls being picked.

“I later went back to the Commissioner, who said the Deputy Governor is yet to call. I had to leave to return the following day.

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“The next day, upon arrival at the Government House, I saw the DLG, SLG, and the APC Chairman for my local government. The commissioner said he has been directed to release the palliative to them.

“I was asked by the Commissioner to remain calm, particularly that with the several leaders I have in my local government, he doesn’t think I should bother myself with how the palliative would be shared.

“After they moved the palliative from the Muhammadu Buhari Civic Centre, I called the DLG to ask about the whereabouts of the palliative, that is the 1200 bags of rice. He said it was off-loaded at the residence of the Zonal Chairman in Ejule. I asked if it was safe there, as I would have guaranteed that if brought to the Local Government Secretariat, it would be safer and would reach the intended beneficiaries.

“I was at the Governorship Tribunal in Abuja yesterday when somebody called me to inform me that a letter of replacement was being typed to replace me, after which I was later told that I had been replaced.”

While the former Transition Chairman said he has taken the power play against him as the will of God, he lamented that he was surprised to read on social media that his sack was connected with the alleged diversion of palliatives that were never given or handed over to him.

“My hands are clean, and I know that my God will fight for me. Since my assumption, it’s been one battle to another. The DSS are all aware of my travails.”

The former Transition Chairman called on Gov. Ahmed Usman Ododo to constitute an investigation into the reason behind his removal, pointing out that it could not have been over a palliative that was not handed over to him.

 

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