Do you know that Nigerian students and their dependants living in the United Kingdom (UK) spend close to two billion pounds (£2bn) in 2021 alone?
Recent research by SB Morgen estimated that Nigerian students and their dependants contributed £1,931,821,923.75 to the UK economy in the 2021/22 academic year, which is equivalent to N1,680,000,000,000 (one trillion, six hundred and eighty billion naira), according to the parallel market exchange rate of Naira to Pound (N840) as at October 20, 2022.
CONVERSEER learned that this is a conservative estimate and at a time when the global economy is in shambles, it was £3.25bn in 2018/19.
The research stated that the total estimated school fees contribution is £680,620,000, the total tax contribution of working spouse is £54,356,319, the total visa fees is £41,696,767, the total NHS fees is £41,763,696, the total rent contribution is £408,372,000, and National Insurance is £151,268,246, equalling a total of £1,931,821,923.75.
Below is the full report of the research
Now and then in the United Kingdom, some incidents show that the anti-immigrant sentiment that drove the Brexit vote still burns brightly in some quarters and refuses to be dimmed regardless of how economically and socially disadvantageous the direction has shown itself to be. A primary driving factor of the Brexit referendum in 2016 was controlling immigration from European Union member states and curbing what was seen as the increasing encroachment of EU-side laws and regulations in British life. But the last six years have seen the rise of wider anti-immigration sentiments, egged and abetted by a wave of rightwing politicians that have redeﬁned British politics. The political situation notwithstanding, structural geopolitical, economic and demographic imperatives continue to make legal economic migration, particularly from Commonwealth countries, an attractive proposition for policymakers in Downing Street.
In 2019, the UK gave 8,384 Nigerians sponsored student visas. Just three years later, ﬁgures from the UK Home Ofﬁce showed that 66,929 Nigerians were offered study visas in the year ending June 2022, a 686% increase on 2021’s numbers which made Nigerian students the third largest foreign student group in the UK after India and China.
The total number of new international students entering the UK in the year ended June 2022 was 486,868, making the Nigerian portion at around 14% of the new inﬂow, prompting a response from the UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who pointed out that the Conservative Party manifesto committed to reducing overall immigration ﬁgures apparently in disregard for established government policy goals and the UK’s economic health.
In statements made to a British newspaper in the run-up to the ruling Conservative party conference, she expressed discomfort with what she considered a high number of international students choosing British universities and some of them coming in with their dependents. She also complained about the international students not being economically productive. She hinted at a willingness to reconsider the UK Policy on student and work visas to stiﬂe the inﬂow of international students. While reports have since emerged that she has been sidelined from leading policy setting on immigration and that the UK will increase the cap on legal immigration, the fundamental premise of Braverman and the party’s right wing of more tightly controlling all forms of immigration is worth interrogating.
According to a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute, international students are worth £29 billion to the UK economy, and the government had set an annual target of 600,000 international students, which the current achievement of 486,868 international students has not met.
When these targets were set, the growth expected was projected to come predominantly from a list of countries that included China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan to help the government get education export ﬁgures to £35 billion by 2030. The current £29 billion is just £6 billion off with eight years left to meet the projected target. What we have here from Suella Braverman is a UK government ofﬁcial expressing displeasure at successful UK government policy.
Are Nigerian students a ﬁnancial liability?
At 66,929 members out of a total of 486,868 new international students, the Nigerian portion of the inﬂow is roughly 13% of the total, and inferring from analysis from London Economics on the economic impact of the international students that the UK took in for the 2018/19 session showed that the UK gained a net ﬁgure of £25.9 billion for the year in question, new Nigerian students alone would be arguably responsible for a net economic gain of £3,250,000,000.
The study looked at the economic impact of the set of students on the UK economy over the entire duration of their studies and does not consider their positive impact on the UK if they stay after their education is over.
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Apart from school fees paid by Nigerian immigrants to British schools, the UK gains from Visa Fees, NHS Payments, Rent, Economic productivity, Income taxes (in the instances where the students work), etc. This does not deny the costs of assimilating legal immigrants into host communities.
The biggest criticism about high immigration in the UK is its impact on housing demand. The new housing supply is currently lower than Downing Street’s plan of providing 300,000 new homes per year. In 2020/2021, 216,000 new homes were supplied, lower than the 243,000 new homes supplied in the previous year, partly due to COVID-19-induced disruption.
While this is not a national housing crisis, economically successful regions that account for the lion’s share of employment opportunities – and the cities and towns where legal migrants are largely attracted – are wilting under the convergence of local and migrant demand. Longstanding planning policy has compounded the problem, often disconnecting local supply from local demand, let alone accounting for the unpredictable vagaries of migration-fuelled demand. Notwithstanding, these are neither unprecedented (the UK dealt with similar challenges in the post-World War II period, where a labour shortage prompted large-scale immigration, mostly from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1973) nor unassailable challenges.
The Home Secretary also discussed the issue of dependents coming with international students. Still, international students in undergraduate programmes are not allowed to come to the UK with their dependents. That privilege is reserved for postgraduate students who are expected to be older and much more likely to have spouses and children, and those students are well-vetted for proof of ﬁnancial competence and made to pay for access to the National Health Service (NHS).
Nigerian international students can expect to pay a range of costs, including but not limited to:
1. Visa Fees £420 per person, £1,680 for a family of four
2. NHS Payments (£470 per person) £1,880 for a family of four
3. Rent for a family (£10,000 Average P.A)
4. £5,112.20 on income of £38,131 which is the UK median income
5. National insurance payments of £3,386.83 per working dependent
6. School fees (£20,000 on average)
In conclusion, the comments of the Home Secretary come from a desire for racial or cultural homogeneity that some consider under threat by the inﬂux of international students who bring a more cosmopolitan dimension to society, and while this desire is natural, we must remember that instincts do not always lead to proﬁtable economic outcomes.
As the UK deals with the loss of its Monarch, and sees former colonies such as India become economically stronger than it in several ways, it has to come to terms with a diminishing global proﬁle. It is possible that embracing immigrants could provide a way to regain something close to its reach when it was an Empire on which the Sun never set.
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