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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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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PICTORIAL: Rep Gifts Daughter SUV For Graduating From Secondary School, Netizens React

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A member of the House of Representatives from Plateau State, Yusuf Gagdi, has gifted his daughter, Aisha, a new Sport Utility Vehicle as a gift on her graduation from a secondary school, Lead British International School Abuja.

Aisha was said to have excelled in her Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, and to mark the achievement, her father surprised her with the luxury vehicle.

Sharing pictures from the graduation ceremony on Instagram on Saturday, Gagdi wrote, “Today, I attended my amazing daughter’s graduation ceremony. Watching you, my dear daughter, walk across that stage fills my heart with immense pride and love.

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“I celebrate your achievements and the strength you’ve shown. Here’s to a future filled with endless possibilities and happiness.
Congratulations, my shining star!”

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On Sunday, Gagdi further shared a report by #northern_trending_ on Instagram, which confirmed that he surprised her with a car gift.

The report partly read, “To celebrate her graduation and great performance in JAMB, her father surprised her with a gift of a car.”

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The lawmaker’s gesture has generated mixed reactions on social media, with some praising his generosity and others criticising the extravagant gift amidst Nigeria’s economic challenges.

One Yusuf tweeting as #kubcy17 on X.com wrote, “Absolute nonsense and rubbish in this trying time. Hon. Yusuf Gagdi doesn’t have a single respect for the people of his constituency.”

READ ALSO: Sen. Buba To Empower 130 Youth On Crop, Animal Production In Bauchi

Haidar, tweeting as #AliyumuazuIbra2, wrote, “It’s not surprising to see that a car, which even university graduates and professors dream of owning, is given as a gift to a secondary school graduate.

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“If she completes university, she might receive a private jet or a personal yacht as a gift.”

Some others, however, stood on the side of the lawmaker.

#Uthmann__ wrote on X.com, “Hon. Gagdi only displayed the car he gifted to his daughter after graduation from secondary school.

“People celebrate their children according to their pockets. This is nothing new in Abuja. And this is even a gift from dad to his daughter.”

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Sen. Buba To Empower 130 Youth On Crop, Animal Production In Bauchi

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Sen. Shehu Buba, representing Bauchi South at the Senate has selected nothing less than 130 youth to be trained and empowered on crop and animal production as well as agric extension services in Bauchi state.

Mr Mohammed Dahiru, one of the Programme Coordinators, stated this during the distribution of training forms to the selected youths in Bauchi on Saturday.

According to him, the youth were selected across the seven Local Government Areas of the Bauchi South Senatorial district the senator represents at the senate to fight food insecurity in the state.

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He said that the senator’s attention has diverted to agriculture where he thought it wise and mandated them to select 130 participants to be trained on both crops and animal production as well as Agric extension services.

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“They will be trained on crop production like rice, maize, soya beans and many others and there is also a portion of animal production which consists of the process of raising and breeding animals for various purposes such as meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products.

“At the end of the programme, they would be able to have a knowledge of farming in both crop and animal production, financial management of farming and they will also know how to farm some selective crops that are more predominant in the state and animals that are not predominantly reared in the state.

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“They will also know how to monitor and evaluate a particular farm and the safety precautions that are within the farming activities,” he said.

Also speaking with newsmen, Engr. Musa Idi, the second programme Coordinator, said after the training, each of the beneficiaries would be empowered with some farming equipment that consists of a solar powered spraying machine.

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“After giving them the empowerment materials, they will be given an allowance that would help them to start something.

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“With this, they would be able to start a small farming business and put what they have learned into practice.

“This is going to help them a lot as the move by the senator is a huge one geared toward eradicating poverty,” he said.

One of the beneficiaries who spoke on behalf of others, Mohammed Ibrahim, lauded the senator for initiating the training and promised to make effective use of the training.

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NEDC Assures Adequate Development In Northeast Region

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The North East Development Commission (NEDC) has reiterated its resolve to leave no stone unturned to ensure adequate development in every part of the region.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed Alkali, made the assurance on Saturday while on project inspection to monitor the level of progress of the projects embarked upon by NEDC in Ningi Local Government Area of Bauchi state.

According to him, the commission was ever ready to provide the necessary interventions to cushion the effect of hardship experienced by the people in the region as a result of insurgency and other disasters.

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Alkali, who also assured that NEDC had not skewed its interventions towards a particular state, said every state would continue to be treated equally as far as development is concerned.

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He however, expressed displeasure at the pace of work with the contractor handling the construction of some structures at the National Obstetrics Fistula Center, Ningi and summoned him to Maiduguri, the Headquarters of the commission for explanations.

The Managing Director, added that this became necessary as the Commission needed to know what was causing the delay in the completion of the projects.

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He further expressed the desire of the commission to see that the facilities were put to use as soon as possible, saying that NEDC was desirous to see that both the Surgical ward and the skills acquisition centre were equipped in order to facilitate treatment and rehabilitation of the patients.

Alkali also lauded the Management of the Centre for providing adequate care to the parents and reiterating that the NEDC would always support the Centre in order to meet up to the objectives of its establishment.

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