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Nigeria: confusion over proposed £3,000 visa bond

A proposal by the UK government to charge visitors from “high risk” countries a £3,0000 visa bond has stirred reactions from  parents and potential students in the UK’s third largest student market, Nigeria, as well as an outcry from members of the government.

“Some parents did express anticipation of more restrictive new schemes by the UK if the visa bond proposal is approved"

Despite assurances from the UK’s ambassador to Nigeria Andrew Pocock that the scheme, if introduced, would affect very few people, there is still palpable confusion. Last week, senators said the proposed bond is “selective, discriminatory, obnoxious, vexatious and unprecedented”.

After deferring debate on the bond until further action is taken, Senator Mathew Nwagwu said: “The imposition of a £3,000 visa bond will place additional barriers, burden and undue hardship on the path of Nigerians intending to travel to the UK for legitimate reasons and is capable of negatively affecting the existing excellent relations between Nigeria and Britain.”

Nigeria is the third largest source market, following India and China for non-UK students at UK higher education institutions

Nigeria is the third largest source market, following India and China for non-UK students at UK higher education institutions, according to the UK Higher Education International Unit. Last year 17,585 Nigerians studied at UK institutions with the number predicted to rise to 30,000 by 2015.

If the bond goes through, education agents say it could affect mobility between the two countries. “The policy will affect student placement, since the money [for the bond] is huge and it will affect the already assumed expensive tuition.” Oyedele Oyedotun, a managing director at education consultants Besor Associates in Ikeja, told The PIE News.

Other agencies however, say it’s too early to panic. “It is difficult to judge at the moment. Thus far though the impact is not immediately visible, but might manifest in other subtle ways,” said Nwabuogo Nneka Oduah a solicitor and education consultant at Corporate and Legal Resources.

“Some parents did express anticipation of more restrictive new schemes by the UK if the visa bond proposal is approved. However, it cannot be established for now if this would be a sufficient reason for them to pull back on sending their wards to study in the UK,” she added.

Initially announced this summer, the pilot programme for the bond has been set to begin in November targeting visitors from “high risk” countries. Speculation is growing over who will be termed as “high risk” and to what extent students will be affected. The government says it will be confined to “a small number of visit visa applicants”.

“This will be highly selective, applying bonds on the basis of risk, rather than to all visitors from specific countries,”confirmed the Home Office.

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