One of my favourite jokes from Twitter is that the last person to leave Nigeria should please switch off the lights. But that doesn't seem like a joke anymore. The statistics show more people are taking the plunge to leave Nigeria. According to Daily Mail, study visas issued to Nigerians increased from 375% to 668% between 2021 and 2022. This means at least 65,929 visas were issued to students and dependents. This means at least one person in your circle knows someone leaving for the UK. We interviewed five Nigerians making the big move to understand why, how, and when this plan was put in motion, and what the process has been for them so far.
There are a lot of why`s. Why a master's from a UK university, and why now? Janet, a 27-year-old Nigerian who has worked in tech and finance for 5 years, believes that the past events in the country, especially that of October 2020, changed her outlook on deciding to stay in Nigeria. Interestingly, she admits she dragged her feet before taking the plunge to apply to schools, but that decision was made for her course seven out of her 10 closest friends already left in the space of two years. According to her, "the system wasn't working, and I felt like my friends were leaving me behind, and I decided it was time to play catchup". For many, plans to relocate were borne out of FOMO (fear of missing out) or, as Janet put it, the "need to play catchup". it plays out almost every day with a random tweet of someone announcing their friends are moving, and they have nothing left here.
For Adeola, a 23-year-old Nigerian, her journey to this point has been very different. She got sold on a master's admission cause her parents felt it was the best move for her fresh off University. With one year of experience as a management consultant, it just felt like the move to make. According to her, "my parents did not let me breathe without suggesting I work on my application, and I frankly did not have it in me to fight them".
Interestingly some just wanted to go out and explore, like Felix, 27 years old, from Nigeria, who decided it was time to move because he wanted to see the world more. A student visa was the easiest way out. Applying for the programme, however, is the easiest; the next part is funding.
The application process is simple, but funding might be expensive, particularly when the exchange rate is taken into account. Some have benefited from financing opportunities offered by their university, Adeola already has 75% of our tuition covered by both scholarships and her parents. For Felix, half of his £160000 tuition was paid by his father and his uncle. For Janet, her master's is fully self-funded by her and her cousins. A decision she had to make when her parents lost a chunk of her tuition they had saved up when the Nigerian stock market crashed.
It's interesting to note that each of them received financial assistance in the shape of contributions or other forms of help from their families. Relocation takes a village. I was particularly interested in learning what folks had given up to take on this. It represented an annual income of 6 million Naira for Adeola. Felix was earning 150,000 a month, therefore in this new phase, only up is possible for him. However, the information that Janet intended to keep her job and that it paid in cryptocurrency was the most intriguing. Interestingly, post the pandemic, people holding remote jobs tend to be more flexible with moving countries.
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In conclusion, the future can be uncertain, but it is also promising. Adeola, Felix, and Janet have made the decision to stay in the UK after completing their master's degrees. Felix is interested in a career in healthcare. Adeola and Janet envision themselves pursuing corporate positions and think that their degrees will elevate them to the next level.