The UK’s immigration personnel are currently working hard to process the backlog of refugee applications coming in as a result of war-torn Ukraine, but they’re not alone. The increased demand has also caused delays for those traveling internationally who want either academic or work opportunities abroad.
The situation has left prospective students from many countries including Nigeria stranded and not able to quickly process their travel requirements before the September school commencement as they normally should.
The British high commissioner to Nigeria has said that people should not apply for visas in August this year because it will be too late by the time they receive their visa and start studying.
“The reason for this is that UKVI, our visa, and immigration processing system, is under enormous pressure. You will all be aware of the horrible humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and we have had to prioritize processing visas for people trying to get out of that horrible war zone. So, please help is to help you, to make sure you get to the UK in September for your studies.”
The uncertain political climate in Nigeria has caused a rush for education, according to experts. The prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the upcoming 2023 general elections are leading causes that many citizens feel compelled or pressured into pursuing higher-level learning opportunities now before they’re gone forever.
While the issues are not immediately apparent, there is a clear link between Nigeria’s deteriorating security situation and its economic turmoil. These two factors have led to skyrocketing unemployment rates that will likely continue growing in future years if something isn’t done about it soon.
“I am not surprised at the record numbers of applications this season. A peek into the number of people — usually in their tens of thousands — who attend regular influencer-anchored social media meet-ups organized by Vive Africa and their likes will give you a feel of the scale of interest and engagement we are talking about,” said Emeka Ndukwe, an education policy expert based in Abuja.
With a little creativity, it’s likely that the UK government will find ways to navigate itself and innovate around its current travel processing challenges before next year’s prospective students enter their portals.