For a while now, Nigerians have been on a steady move overseas, especially to the United Kingdom (UK). There are a plethora of reasons for this trend, and it is not disconnected from the current economic situation of the country, and a search for better life outside the shores of this country.
While “japaing” is a beautiful dream, it comes with its many planning stages, dedications, and financial burden. It is important to be both mentally and financially ready for the journey before embarking on the process – which is no child’s play.
You can choose to japa as a student, or as a skilled worker, or as any legal channels you choose. Let’s talk about what you need to japa as a student.
What do you need to have before you begin the process?
Who sets out on a journey without getting ready, right?
Here are a list of documents you need to have handy before you even begin the process:
1. Your International Passport – You can apply for this through the online portal of the Immigration Services (or through a trusted party, you know, as per Naija factor).
2. Get your degree certificate(s) or your Statement of Result. Get them scanned and saved in good quality. You will need to upload them during application.
3. Transcript – Very important.
4. Recommendation letters. You should have at least two of this ready from a lecturer and an employer. You will hardly find a school that won’t request for at least, two recommendation letters. If you have more than two lecturers/employer ready to recommend you, even better!
5. SOP. This is called Statement of Purpose. It is a personal statement where you tell your story – who you are, why you want to study the course you choose, why you choose to study in the UK, why you choose the particular school, and other information that would help you get the slot.
6. O-Level results – WAEC certificate should be handy, with at least, a C6 in English language and/or an English proficiency letter. Some schools accept these in place of IELTS. If you can, get IELTS ready.
7. CV – You might be required to upload your curriculum vitae, so get it ready, proofread, and in professional condition.
8. Data – You will need to have a reliable internet connection and have data, because applications are done online. You will not be taking papers to any Senate building.
Those documents should do, unless other documents are specifically requested by the school.
How to apply to UK schools for admission
Now that all necessary documents are ready, you can then proceed to the application stage. This stage is where the real work begins.
1. You begin by searching for schools that offer the course(s) you desire to study. Remember to consider affordability, and location in your choice. You can string your search to include the course you intend to study, for example, “UK schools that offer Masters in Data Science”.
2. Read the course overview and requirements to know if you fulfill the them.
3. Once you satisfy the requirements, start applying. You can apply to as many schools as you can, and you can also apply to different courses in the same school. However, to be safe, I’d advise you apply for one course in one school. As much as you can apply to any course for masters, regardless of what your first degree is, it is important you read the overview and requirements for any course before you apply.
4. Once applications are done with, wait for the Conditional Offer Letter, and be ready to accept the one that best suits you. Once you fulfill the conditions of the admission, you will get a Certificate of Acceptance and Unconditional Offer.
After you received the Unconditional Offer, you then go ahead to paying Tuition deposit. This can be paid through CBN’s Form A. You can do this through CBN Trade System Portal, where you will get foreign exchange at the official rate. Although, the official rate is cheaper, it might take time before payment is delivered to the institution.
For the Form A, you will need the following documents:
a. Admission offer.
b. Degree certificate.
c. School’s payment invoice.
d. Authorization letter for the release of funds from your account.
e. International Passport.
f. NYSC discharge certificate (optional in most cases).
Then wait for approval and payment acknowledgement from the school, which comes in form of the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). The CAS is what you will use in the next stage, which is visa application.
Before you begin the Visa application stage, you should get the following ready:
1. Tuberculosis test – there are specialized test centers in Lagos and Abuja, so you choose which location best suits you. Pay for the test, and take the test.
2. Proof of fund – This is important for visa approval. You have to have the required least amount acceptable by the UK government before your visa application is considered. The UK government accept fund in the applicant’s bank account, or that of parents. The statement of account should not be more than 28 days old.
The proof of funds should cover the sum of the balance of your tuition, and living expenses for at least, 9 months. This is a sample of how to calculate the amount needed for the proof of funds:
For schools outside London and with a tuition balance of £10,000, you should have £10,000 + £1,023x 9 (months), which is £19,207. Now, multiply this amount by the official CBN exchange rate for pounds. That will give you the least amount you should have as proof of fund. To be safe, it is advisable you round the figure to the upper million.
Keep this amount the account whose statement you added to your Visa application for the duration of the Visa application.
Start the Visa application, and pay the application fee (this could be Standard – which takes about 15 working days, Priority – 5 working days, or Super Priority – 24 hours). Visa application fee is not covered by the CBN official rate, so you might have to source for that on the black market. After Visa fee payment, you will chose a venue for biometric screening which can be in Lagos or Abuja.
Note: You will also have to pay your Immigration Health Surcharge, which will depend on the duration of your course.
Then, wait for the decision, which will come as an email. You can then pick your Visa up, or have it sent to your location.
Apply for accommodation
The hard parts are done with, and now you can start packing your bags and getting ready to leave. However, before leaving Nigeria, you should sort accommodation first. You can either have someone sort the accommodation for you, or find a place on apps like Zoopla and Spare Room. You don’t want to spend all your money on hotels.
Book your flight
You can do this on your own, or have travel agencies help you with it for a fee. Whichever way, I wish you safe journey and all the best.