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Why Nigerian students in face hardship in the UK – Kelvin Alaneme, CEO, CareerEdu

Nairametrics reported last week that many Nigerian students in the United Kingdom have a rough start to life in the country that promises to be filled with milk and honey as they have to do several odd jobs to keep up with the high standard of living.

While some of these students have fallen victim to fraudsters who swindle them of their hard-earned money and dent their traveling records, others have been faced with the pressure of hiding from immigration officials in those foreign countries due to lack of legal papers.

In this exclusive interview with Kelvin Alaneme, the founder and CEO of CareerEdu, he took us through the factors that have contributed to the massive exodus of Nigerians abroad, popularly known as Japa syndrome. He also reiterated the need to make adequate research before traveling abroad.

Background information

I am Dr. Kelvin Alaneme, a medical doctor working as a Specialist Registrar in Psychiatry with the NHS in the UK. I am also the founder of CareerEdu, Nigeria’s largest relocation platform serving a community of over 38,000 persons and helping them with jobs and study opportunities abroad.

CareerEdu has services in five countries – the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Romania, and Oman. I moved to the UK in 2019 after I was awarded the Postgraduate Ambassador Scholarship by Glasgow Caledonian University for my Masters in Public Health.

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If you are to make the same move (relocate from NIGERIA now) today, what would you do differently?

What I would do differently is to research properly and utilize a group like CareerEdu. My relocation was essentially an experiment in the dark. Fortunately, I did not make any damaging mistake. Since founding CareerEdu in 2020, we have created pathways to make relocation easy and seamless. Just the past year alone, over 1000 persons have used these pathways to relocate without breaking a sweat.

Thousands of Nigerians have left the country in search of greener pastures across UK, Canada, and Ireland among others. How would you assess the ‘JAPA’ syndrome, especially in UK?

The thousands leaving are being driven out of the country by the high rate of insecurity, unemployment, inflation, and widespread poverty. People are generally survivalists – as a result, they are migrating for better opportunities and living conditions.

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It is a sad situation because the ones leaving are essentially the best of us – most are being lured by better salaries and better working conditions. Good examples are healthcare workers and university lecturers.

Some Nigerians that one will believe are doing so well here have also sold their houses, cars and other belongings and left for these countries. Do you think it is really worth leaving Nigeria for the unknown in countries you have never been to?

This question is very valid. However, note that no one makes that kind of decision without properly calculating the pros and cons. There are so many intangible benefits from relocation, which I believe these sets of ‘prosperous individuals’ are looking for. For instance, the UK has a very good healthcare system – in the NHS, healthcare is free at the point of service. This means that these people can have rapid emergency services including surgeries for free.

Many rich persons have died in Nigeria from preventable causes. Again, public education is free up to secondary level in the UK. Security is guaranteed. No kidnappings or paying millions in ransom. If you take into calculation all these hidden benefits, you will agree that selling these properties and making that move to a saner clime is a valuable investment.

The major categories of people traveling are Students, PR seekers (Professionals) and Care givers among others. What do you think each of them must do before selling their belongings and embarking on such trips?

The most important thing anyone needs to do before relocating is adequate research. On our website, for example, we answer thorny questions, provide guidance with regard to visa application and accommodation – all these are critical steps that can make or mar the relocation process.

After doing one’s research, the total cost needed is made clear and one can confidently proceed with the process without the fear of getting stuck on the way.

What are the mistakes or wrong moves you have observed that these people make either while planning to move or as soon as they get there?

One of the key mistakes a lot of persons have made while planning to move is using shady visa agents – some of whom swindle unsuspecting victims and issue fake visas to some, damaging their immigration history.

At CareerEdu, we have simplified the relocation process, step-by-step, such that any individual can follow these steps and relocate successfully without needing an agent. Another mistake people make when they reach here is to forget that they are now in an organized society – there is law and order and you have to abide by societal norms as well as contracts you enter into. Behaving ‘anyhow’ can land you in police custody.

There are fears or concerns that the UK government will change some policies that will streamline the influx of migrants and their dependants. What is your thought on this?

The UK Government is at liberty to alter its migration policies. Migrants are also at liberty to go to other countries whose policies appear more favourable such as Canada or Australia.

What are the relocation pathways in the UK and other nations for different categories of Nigerians aspiring to relocate?

  • For Nigerians aspiring to relocate to the UK; They can come in via the study route (Masters pathway is popular because most UK Master’s program is for one year) or via the job route. We have services that aid people for both routes.
  • For the job route; Healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants) and software engineers can easily get jobs from Nigeria to the UK at the moment.
  • For Australia, Canada and Romania, the main pathway to relocation are via studies – undergraduate or Masters, and we have services that cater to this. Canada also admits people via the Canadian Express Entry, but this is a much longer route. We have a work route that can help individuals relocate, live and work in Oman.

Some Nigerians have alleged that several agents have fleeced them while trying to aid their relocation. What are the red flags they should watch out for while dealing with agents?

The major red flag is the exorbitant sum most of these unscrupulous agents charge. Again, for most Visas, you will need to do biometrics – go to the Embassy or a service Centre appointed by the country to have your fingerprints taken.

If an agent is collecting a huge sum and not making any provision for biometrics, telling you that “he will stamp the visa and give you”, that is a big red flag. No individual has the authority to issue Visa except consulates or their representatives.

Some Nigerian students studied Medicine in countries like Cambodia for three years before they found that the universities are not accredited. While some have returned to Nigeria, others are stranded trying to cross to the US. Where did they get it wrong and what can be done to save the day?

These mishaps are mainly due to poor research. Not all relocation grounds are fertile. Not everything promised by agents is true. Some are in it just for business and are after their initial commission. Hence, while using agents, one is expected to do due diligence.

To save the day, these individuals can return to Nigeria or process legitimate entry into countries like Romania and UK via the study routes. CareerEdu can help them.

Some critics argue that Canada offers the best settlement plans for migrants compared to the UK. Is this correct and kindly share differences and similarities among the countries with us.

Canada offers one of the best post-study plans for students and is also one of the countries where it is easier to become a permanent resident after graduation. Compared to the UK, Canada offers three years post-study visa while the UK offers two years.

Again, for Canada, it is easier to move from a post-study visa to obtain permanent residency. For the UK, you must first get a Tier 2 sponsoring job and be on Tier 2 Visa for five years before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residency). Australia is similar to Canada. They offer a three-year post-study period, within which the individual can apply for permanent residency through the Skilled Independent Visa pathway or the Regional Sponsored Permanent Residency pathway.

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