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Student visa: British high commissioner calls for early application, says UKVI under pressure

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The British High Commission says student visa applications are currently taking an average of five weeks due to “enormous pressure” in its processing system.

Catriona Laing, British high commissioner to Nigeria, said this in a video shared on the commission’s Twitter page.

Laing recommended that Nigerian students who intend to study in the United Kingdom in September 2022 should apply for visas as early as possible to avoid delays.

She disclosed that 96 percent of Nigerians who applied for student visas were granted those visas.

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“My message is directed to those of you who are planning to study this academic year, September 2022,” she said.

“The UK is a fabulous place to study. Our academic qualifications are recognised globally as the best, and we welcome students from around the globe and in particular from Nigeria because we want the brightest and best.

“We have a transparent point-based system, and 96 percent of Nigeria who applied for student visas are granted those visas.

“But my message this morning is please, help us to help you by applying much earlier than you think you need for your visa this year.

“In previous years, it might have been okay to apply in August for a visa to start your studies in September. This year, that’s going to be much, much too late.

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“So, I appreciate that some of you may still be getting your paperwork together, your confirmation of acceptance of studies, your requirement for TB clearance, and of course, your exam results.

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“But there is other paperwork that you can be starting to put together so that you have everything together in one package so you can just press ‘go’ as soon as all the paperwork is complete.

“The reason for this is that UKVI, our visa immigration processing system is under enormous pressure. You will all be aware of the horrible humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and we’ve had to prioritise processing visas for the people trying to get out of that horrible war zone.

“That means we’ve had to pause our priority and super-priority visa processing systems. So, it’s really really imperative that you get your paperwork together as soon as possible and you apply as early as you can.

“So, please help us to help you, to make sure you get to the UK in September for your studies which is going to be fabulous. We want you to have a wonderful time studying in the UK.

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“There is going to be lots of information over the coming weeks and months on our social media channels, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and our hashtag is #UKnaijaStudent2022. So, look out for further information.”

Between March 2020 to March 2022, a total of 58,887 study visas were granted, up from 17,366 in March 2021.

According to the commission, Nigeria had the third-highest nationalities granted UK-sponsored study visas after China and India, as of March 2022.

A student visa in Nigeria costs about $486 (N199,260).

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Education

ASUU holds crucial NEC meeting

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ASUU holds crucial NEC meeting

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has scheduled a crucial National Executive Council (NEC) meeting to discuss issues affecting members’ welfare.

The meeting, which would take place at ASUU Secretariat in Abuja, is expected to be attended by principal and national officers, zonal coordinators, and branch chairmen.

Also read : ASUU’s struggle beyond salaries, welfare only — Osodeke

Notifications have been sent out to those expected to attend.

According to the national officer, certain assignments given to the zonal coordinators and branch chairmen at the last meeting in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, would be tabled for discussion by the NEC members.

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Our source declined to state if the Federal Government had brought any new items to the negotiation table or taken decisions on outstanding issues that prompted the emergency NEC meeting.

“I am not aware of any new government positions on our demands. We have many outstanding demands that require the attention of the Federal Government. Several letters were written and no positive response.

“One thing that I can tell you is that our members are agitated over the withheld salaries, non-payment of the academic earned allowances, and other issues affecting public universities in the country, which the government has refused to address,” he stated.

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Education

12-year-old wins $50,000 US spelling bee prize

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Mastering words such as “cricetine” and “indumentum”, 12-year-old Bruhat Soma clinched victory Thursday in the United States spelling bee.

The seventh-grade student from St. Petersburg, Florida, beamed as colorful confetti rained down after he won the tiebreaker.

“Bruhat Soma from Florida cemented his win by correctly spelling his final word, ‘abseil’,” organizer Scripps National Spelling Bee announced on X.

Soma, who also competed in the past two annual competitions, will take home a $50,000 prize and a championship trophy.

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“I never expected this,” he said at a news conference after his win, quoted by The Washington Post.

The boy told reporters that there was only one word he did not recognize — but luckily it wasn’t his turn.

Soma correctly spelled 29 words in 90 seconds during the competition’s second-ever “Spell-off” tiebreaker, US media reported.

Such success was enough to see him put 12-year-old Faizan Zaki from Dallas, Texas, in second place.

In earlier rounds, Soma correctly spelled 10 words right, including “coulisse” — defined as a backstage area — and the Dutch town Hoofddorp.

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In addition to spelling words correctly, Soma helped secure his victory with accurate definitions of a “troglodyte” — a primitive cave dweller — and “sine qua non” — something considered essential.

Children have participated in US classroom, school, and regional spelling bees in hopes of making it to the national contest since 1925, according to Scripps National Spelling Bee.

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Education

FG opens student loan application portal May 24

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The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, on Thursday, announced May 24, 2024, as the official date for “the opening of the portal for student loan applications.”

The announcement was made in a statement by the media lead for the NELFund, Nasir Ayantogo.

Ayantogo, in the statement, said the opening of the application portal marked a significant milestone in the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to “fostering accessible and inclusive education for all Nigerian students.”

On June 12, 2023, Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023 into law to enable indigent students to access interest-free loans for their educational pursuits in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

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The move was in “fulfillment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise funding of education,” a member of the then Presidential Strategy Team, Dele Alake, said.

The Act, popularly known as the Students Loan Law, also established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund to process all loan requests, grants, disbursement, and recovery.

Although the government initially announced that the scheme would be launched in September, it suffered several delays leading to an indefinite postponement in early March.

The Presidency had linked the delay to Tinubu’s directive to expand the scheme to include loans for vocational skills.

After receiving briefing from the NELFund team led by the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, on January 22, the President had directed the Fund to extend interest-free loans to Nigerian students interested in skill-development programmes.

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Tinubu based his decision on the need for the scheme to accommodate those who may not want to pursue a university education, noting that skill acquisition is as essential as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications.

“This is not an exclusive programme. It is catering to all of our young people. Young Nigerians are gifted in different areas.

“This is not only for those who want to be doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their skilled and trained hands to build our nation.

“In accordance with this, I have instructed NELFund to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill-development programmes because not everybody wants to go through a full university education,” he had said.

Through the portal, students can now access loans to pursue their academic aspirations without financial constraints.

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The portal, according to the statement, provides a user-friendly interface for students to submit their loan applications conveniently.

“We encourage all eligible students to take advantage of this opportunity to invest in their future and contribute to the growth and development of our nation.

“Students can access the portal on www.nelf.gov.ng to begin application,” the statement said.

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