UK study visas issued to Nigerians fell by 38% year-on-year in March 2024

The latest data released by the United Kingdom Home Office has revealed a 38% decline in study visas issued to Nigerians between March 2023 and March 2024.

The report particularly focuses on the decline in the number of study visas issued to applicants from India and Nigeria, which are the UK’s two major markets for study visas.

Visas issued to applicants from India fell by 16% for the same time period.

NairaMetrics learns that this decline appears to be closely tied to the rule change in January 2024, which now restricts international students from bringing dependents unless they are enrolled in research-focused postgraduate programs.

What the report indicates

Visa issuances to main applicants (excluding dependents) dropped by just over 6% year-over-year and 10% compared to the peak in June 2023.

These patterns suggest a shifting trend in visa applications and issuances, influenced by various factors, including policy changes and broader global conditions.

The interplay between the growth of main applicant visas and the corresponding rise and fall of dependent visas painted a nuanced picture of international mobility and the evolving landscape of study visas in the UK.

The Home Office reported,

“After a decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of visas issued increased sharply, reaching a peak of 498,626 in the year ending June 2023. The latest year saw a slight decrease to 446,924.”

“In the year ending March 2024, there were 111,481 visas issued to student dependents, a 25% decrease from the previous year but nearly seven times higher than in 2019.

“The number of dependents has grown faster than main applicants in recent years, peaking in March 2023 with approximately three dependents for every ten main applicants.

“Both main applicants and dependents have since declined, with a faster rate of decrease for dependents in the first quarter of 2024. In the year ending March 2024, 20% of sponsored study visas were issued to dependents.”

A significant majority of UK study visas are issued for graduate studies (66% of main applicants for the year ending March 2024), with another 25% issued to undergraduate enrollees.

However, the modest decline in visa issuances through March might signal a larger trend. The Home Office earlier reported a 44% drop in study visa applications in the first three months of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

The downturn follows significant growth in visa volumes since 2016, which was mirrored by an increase in visas for dependents.

Summary of the report

In the period spanning from March 2019 to March 2024, applicants from Nigeria experienced a notable upward trajectory in the number of visas granted, starting from a modest base.

  • Initially, in March 2019, the number of visas issued to Nigerians stood at approximately 10,000.
  • Over the ensuing years, this figure witnessed a steady and significant increase.
  • By March 2023, the number of visas granted had risen to about 50,000, marking a fivefold increase from the 2019 baseline.
  • This upward trend, however, did not persist without fluctuation. By March 2024, there was a slight decline, with the number of visas issued to Nigerians dropping to around 45,000.



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