Agha Ibiam in London
A sizeable number of Nigerian students studying in various universities in the United Kingdom may face immediate deportation if nothing is done to offset their school fees and other outstanding payments that have accumulated over the years, protesting students in the UK have said.
Some of the abandoned students, studying at the expense of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), gathered at the Nigerian High Commission in London as early as 6 am yesterday to protest the non-payment of their school fees and entitlements.
They claimed that they were facing the risk of deportation from the country because the state government had not paid their fees for over two years now.
Some of the students are studying at the University of Huddersfield.
According to one of the students who spoke to THISDAY on the telephone, Mr. Kevin Nwoke, 21, an energy engineering student, the hope of progressing to third year of his studies is hanging in the balance as the state government had not kept to its promise.
He said it would be precarious for him if he is deported on September 26 because the possibility of him getting a visa on time to complete his studies may be slim and challenging.
“Some of us are studying bio-chemistry, computer science and energy engineering. There are more than 200 of such students in different universities that have been neglected for the same reason from my state government. So we are here to see what the High Commission can do in this matter,” Nwoke said.
He said trouble started for them at the university when the school authorities invited them to a meeting, and told them that their sponsors had not been paying their school fees for more than two years.
“Even for me to pay my house rent and feed myself, I have to do some menial and boring jobs, otherwise, I would have been unable to survive. Sometimes, I get about £400 a month, depending on if there is job. But on the average, I get about £150 just to keep up. It has been terribly hard for us,” he said.
When asked if his parents could take over the responsibility of paying his fees and upkeep, he said: “My parents are civil servants and they don’t have the money to train me abroad.”
THISDAY contacted a member of staff of the Nigerian High Commission to find out if the protesting students were given audience.
The staff, who preferred not to give his name, confirmed that the acting Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Olukunle A. Bamgbose, granted them audience.
“Mr. Bamgbose showed them letters that have been sent to the Rivers State Government and called the Secretary to the State Government and even placed it on speaker so the students could listen to the conversation.
“So hopefully, the meeting with the protesting students and the High Commissioner was fruitful to the extent of ensuring that the students complete their studies on time and without further disruptions,” he said.
He also said that about 76 students from different universities in UK were at the commission for the same purpose.
However, he exonerated students studying under federal government scholarships, stating that they were not part of the protest as their fees and entitlements were paid regularly.