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Bangladeshi election impacts student mobility

Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina has won a fourth straight term in power but the disruption surrounding the national election is hampering student mobility in the short term.

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Current students are struggling to meet winter tuition fee instalments

Hasina, her party the Awami League and their allies, won 223 of 300 parliamentary seats contested amid widespread boycotting by opposition parties and low voter turnout.

Some opposition rallies in the run-up turned violent, resulting in arrests and accusations of election manipulation. As a result, large portions of the population including young, first time voters have felt disenchanted about the democratic process in Bangladesh.

In September 2023, the United States imposed visa restrictions on any Bangladeshi individuals seen as undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.

The turmoil, combined with global inflation, has exasperated pressure on foreign reserves causing banks to limit student access to necessary funds.

Families have been struggling with the rising cost of living and many garment workers from the country’s crucial textile industry have been protesting about national pay thresholds.

The timing of the election has been problematic for the January intake for British universities, which have already been hit hard by the introduction of visa restrictions for dependants.

Similarly, current students are struggling to meet winter tuition fee instalments.

Mahbub Alom Shuhag, campus officer and student at Coventry University London spoke to The PIE saying, “I’ve been actively engaging with the student body from Bangladesh who are currently facing severe financial challenges because of the ongoing general election.

“We want to alleviate the burdens faced by the Bangladeshi student community”

“One of the most pressing issues is the acute shortage of available currencies in banks back home. This shortage is more than just a financial hiccup; it’s a crisis that’s hindering students from meeting essential payment deadlines, like tuition deposit fees.”

Ahad Farhan, sales manager for Study Group and based in Bangladesh, commented, saying “I think the biggest disruption in student mobility is due to the ongoing forex reserve crisis.”

Farhan highlighted this is an ongoing problem and questioned whether it was directly linked to the election.

The latest data from Enroly suggested deposits from Bangladeshi applicants to UK partner institutions were down by 54% compared to the same point in January 2023.

A spokesperson said, “Our numbers show that Bangladesh has seen greater falls for January than the overall drop for the UK, but the falls haven’t been as dramatic as Nigeria, for example.”

Global agent IDP Education, which opened new offices in Bangladesh in 2023, reported a more positive picture with ‘good growth’ at both application and enrolment stage for Bangladesh for January to the UK.

“We’ve been asking universities to recognise these extraordinary circumstances and extend their support for Bangladeshi students, possibly through deadline extensions or other measures,” continued Shuhag.

“We want to alleviate the burdens faced by the Bangladeshi student community.”

Do you support current or prospective Bangladeshi students coming to the UK? Has the election disrupted student access to finance? Have your say below or by emailing

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