#Brexit Might Bring Changes to the Lives of Nigerians Living in Britain

Nigeria House, the Nigerian High Commission in London. Photo/ Trumpet Media Group

The decision of British people to leave the European Union after Thursday’s referendum is about to bring changes to the lives of Nigerians living or studying in Britain.

Now a visa would be required of EU citizens (Nigerians born in Europe or naturalized) to travel to England, Europeans who live there would not be getting the social benefits they are getting now, while tuition for foreign students in Britain is likely to be significantly higher, while policies on student loans may change as well.

According to a 2014 report published in the Guardian Newspaper, “Nigeria will soon overtake India to become the UK’s second biggest source of international postgraduate students, according to research compiled by the British Council”. According to 2012 data from the British Council over 11,000 Nigerian students are attending British universities for postgraduate studies with the number jumping to close to 29,000 by the year 2024.

Top Ten non-EU sending countries

Country 2014-15 2013-14 2012-13
China (PRC) 89,540 87,895 83,790
India 18,320 19,750 22,385
Nigeria 17,920 18,020 17,395
Malaysia 17,060 16,635 15,015
United States of America 16,865 16,485 16,235
Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region) 16,215 14,725 13,065
Saudi Arabia 8,595 9,060 9,440
Singapore 7,295 6,790 6,020
Thailand* 6,240 6,340 6,180
Pakistan 7,295 6,665 7,185

*Note that Thailand entered the top ten countries in 2014-15 and Canada fell to 11th place.

Source: HESA First Statistical Release 224 (2014-15) [^] Table 9

The UK has always been a favorite for Nigerian students. It is estimated that, at the moment, 17,920 Nigerians study in English higher education institutions.

Nigerian ex-pats in England, as members of the EU, were paying the same tuition as British students. Tuition averages 11,500 euros per year for British students and it is about 17,500 euros for “overseas students.” Now the Brexit would change that, since Nigerian ex-pats would be considered “overseas students”.

More importantly, though, Nigerian students would lose the right to get student loans, a privilege they used extensively as EU members.

Regarding Nigerians working in the UK, it is likely that they would have to go through several bureaucratic procedures to maintain their status, while they might not be entitled to social benefits British citizens enjoy.

Those who wish to work in the UK may have to go through more strict hiring procedures and requirements such as income level or higher education might apply.

At the moment, 1.6 million foreigners from EU members states work in England. If Britain leaves the union, then those foreign workers will have to apply for a work permit. According to an analysis of the Social Market Foundation, 88% of them would not meet the criteria to get the work permit.

Until the end of 2011, according to a UK Census the official number of Nigerians living in the UK was over one million, with 201,184 being UK born residents, with most of them concentrated in none other than Britain, London to be exact. After the Brexit, their future ability to live and work in the UK is not certain.