Only PhD students eligible to bring dependents to UK – Envoy

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By Chinenye Offor

The UK says only international students coming in for their Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) studies are eligible to bring in dependents to the country.

Dr Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.

He said that the educational system policy, which changed early 2024, for international students in higher education not to bring dependents into the UK, was to curb the increase of foreign student bringing in dependents.

He explained that the huge surge in dependence was putting an unsustainable pressure on many universities, adding that it was the reason these changes were introduced.

Montgomery added that before his posting as High Commissioner to Nigeria, he had spoken to some of the universities on the policy change, of which had been in the pipeline for some time.

He noted that the  Chancellors of the universities had complained of the huge student populations,  highlighting that accommodation was a huge challenge, including access to medical services under the National Health Service and access to school if they brought in dependents.

According to him, the restrictions do not apply to all categories, adding that those doing a long term research degree, like a PhD or doctorate are not affected.

“Those coming to the UK for doctorate can still bring their dependents but if you are coming to the UK with a study visa for an undergraduate degree, or short term master’s degree, I’m afraid the rules have been changed.

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“People need to understand why this change was brought in, and it is a sensible change because we have a large higher education sector and most of these universities are in towns across the country.

“There has been a surge recently, in demand for British education and I can give you the macro figures and there has also been a huge increase in foreign students bringing their dependants.

“In the case of Nigeria, in 2019, before the Coronavirus pandemic, there were only one and a half thousand dependents being brought in from Nigeria, with those on study visas,

“In 2022, that figure had increased to 52,000 dependants; so, that’s a thirty fold increase in dependence. And it’s not just about Nigeria by the way.

“It is also about all foreign students.  We saw similar rises, for example, amongst Indian students coming to study in the UK,” he added

Speaking on the policy initiation, he said: “It is early to ascertain the impact of the policy on undergraduates because these changes were announced in 2023, but came into effect early this year.

“And we would have to wait until September 2024 before we get the next run of academic tickets.

“I think what your wider audience needs to hear is that the demand for UK education is really strong.

“In 2022, 65,000 study visas were approved to Nigerian applicants, 65,000, while in  September 2023 we received about 115,000 Study visa applications from Nigeria.

“Of which 95 per cent were approved and over 110,000 study visas were issued last September compared to 65,000 of the previous year, there’s almost a doubling of Nigerian study visas in 2023 which means the demand is really high.

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“And it is something which I am genuinely pleased and proud about that the UK has such a good higher educational sector and we are still at the six economy, and is still one of the biggest economies but we are only 2.5 per cent of the global economy.

“So, we have 17 of the top 100 universities in the world. We have 17 per cent of the top universities, so it is one of our units.

“I really like the demand but there are other factors at play in terms of schooling in the UK.  The value of the Naira in the coming months will also determine how easy or hard it will be for many people to afford our education.

“I am hoping that the demand will be sustained,” he said. ( NAN)(

Edited by Halima Sheji


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