JAPA DEMYSTIFIED: Nigerian YouTuber Sparks Online Uproar by Exposing Motives Behind Nigerians’ UK Study Aspirations In Bold BBC Interview

Emdee Tiamiyu, a popular Nigerian YouTuber known for providing advice on studying in the United Kingdom, has faced severe criticism following an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). In the interview, Tiamiyu claimed that many Nigerians seeking education in the UK were not genuinely interested in acquiring new qualifications, but rather saw it as an opportunity to start a new life abroad.Speaking from his residence in a Birmingham suburb, Tiamiyu boasts thousands of subscribers on his YouTube channel, which he promotes as the top guide to “scholarships, fellowships, and japa-ships.” He explains that “japa” is a Yoruba term meaning “to leave” and has become a buzzword among Nigerians seeking to escape the prevalent issues of corruption and poor governance in their home country.According to Tiamiyu, people are actively seeking alternatives and aspire to escape Nigeria. He offers advice on navigating immigration systems, particularly the UK’s, emphasizing that for most individuals, the only viable and widely accessible route is through the education system.Tiamiyu asserts, “The student route is more like an answered prayer.” It serves as a broad avenue capable of accommodating numerous individuals, including ordinary citizens. Last year, one-fifth of UK student visas were granted to Nigerians, amounting to a total of 120,000 visas, equally divided between students themselves and their partners and children. Nigerians received more family visas for foreign students than any other nationality.In light of the anticipated release of migration figures, expected to indicate a record influx of 700,000 people into the UK last year, the government has decided to prohibit spouses and children of individuals pursuing certain post-graduate courses, such as master’s degrees, from obtaining visas.Tiamiyu acknowledges the government’s rationale for taking such action. He highlights the growing trend of individuals enrolling in courses solely to secure visas for themselves and their dependents, willingly paying an average annual fee of £22,000 to UK educational institutions. He states, “We’re beginning to see that a lot of people just hide behind the studentship. So the student thing is not real, it’s not like they need the degrees.”While Tiamiyu acknowledges that most people genuinely intend to pursue their studies, he suggests that the number of individuals who prioritize their education is declining. Despite the possibility of visas being curtailed if foreign students’ attendance and performance are unsatisfactory, Tiamiyu notes that some students are “really not worried about the details of the education.” For them, the course serves as a stepping stone to a new life in the UK, allowing them to remain in the country for an additional two or three years on a graduate visa, or even longer on a skilled worker visa if they secure suitable employment.Foreign students in the UK are restricted to working a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time, making it challenging to generate significant income on a student visa. Tiamiyu highlights that family visas can make it more economically viable, as a spouse accompanying the student can work full-time.However, Tiamiyu also acknowledges that not all marriages involving foreign students are genuine. In some cases, he states, “people would just team up somewhere in Lagos” before embarking on their journey.Tiamiyu believes that the demanding job market in the UK means that Nigerian students must possess genuine skills and experience to secure long-term visas. Ultimately, the granting of such visas depends on making a meaningful contribution.The University of Wolverhampton campus has attracted a considerable number of Nigerian residents to the Shropshire town of Telford. For students like Rotimi Lawal, studying a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at a cost of £15,000, the appeal of a UK education is closely intertwined with the prospects offered by the country’s economy. Lawal expresses the belief that studying in the UK provides an opportunity to work there, offering better remuneration and the potential for a better life.Dr. Rachel Morgan-Guthrie, associate dean for students and education, warns that preventing foreign master’s students from bringing their dependents could have adverse effects on their education. She argues that having a support network in place significantly contributes to students’ chances of success.Tiamiyu believes that students who prioritize factors other than education could undermine UK universities. He suggests that the new restrictions may prompt some individuals to reconsider the cost of a UK education if they are unable to secure visas for their children or spouse. However, he asserts the importance of continuing to support legal migration routes, highlighting the desperation of many people.On his YouTube channel, Tiamiyu has conducted interviews with young Nigerians on the streets, posing the question of whether they would choose an illegal “japa route” to a foreign country, even if they were aware of the risks and potential failure. He claims to have been shocked by the number of people who expressed their willingness to take such a risk.Following the release of the interview, Tiamiyu has faced a wave of backlash from Nigerians. Critics argue that his statements do not represent the views of the entire Nigerian population and accuse him of perpetuating negative stereotypes for personal gain. Social media users have expressed their disappointment and anger, highlighting the damage caused to Nigeria’s image and calling for accountability.

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Ademola Adeyemi

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