Funds crisis for Nigerian Glasgow Uni students

A GROUP OF desperate students are fearing eviction after having their funding suddenly cut off.

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A total of 23 Nigerian students who are studying at Glasgow University are

living on as little as £20 a week after their government stopped paying their scholarships in January,

The grants are supposed to support students who have come to the UK to study and help them cover the cost of food, rent, travel, clothing and books.

Now the group is relying on handouts of food and cash from friends and their local church as a means of getting by, and have not paid rent for four months.

They are now worried they could be evicted from their homes after receiving debt recovery letters last month.

Christopher Thankgod, 32, is studying for a Masters in International Relations.

He said: "It's like you are left high and dry, that's the way we look at it.

"We feel very bad, it's like we are being neglected.

"We are just stopping short of begging in the street."

The scholarships of between £500 and £700 a month are offered to students from the Niger Delta region in the south of the country.

Many of the students have young children and partners who they have left behind in a bid to improve their career opportunities by studying in the UK.

Some are as young as 16 and have never lived alone before.

As part of the programme, the students are supposed to have an annual trip home to visit friends and family, something which barely any of them have been able to do since they arrived two years ago,

Onyx Dange, 38, who is studying for a Masters in Environment and Sustainable Development, said: "Some of us are doing

undergraduate degrees and some are doing postgraduate.

"How can you expect someone doing an undergraduate for three or four years to remain in this one place without going home, the whole time? People are homesick and depressed."

After failing to get any answers from the administration, the students feel as though they've been left in the lurch.

A spokesman for the University of Glasgow said: "Some of our Nigerian students have reported to us that they have not received payments from their government sponsors to support their living costs.

"We are in contact with the Office of the Special

Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs to clarify and resolve the issue.

"In the meantime we are supporting the students by providing them with money from the emergency hardship fund.

"We understand this

situation is creating worry and stress for the students involved and will provide them with any support they require for their studies."

Shima Alege, Consular and Welfare Minister at the Nigerian High Commission in the UK said the

reason the students hadn't received their scholarships was down to the Nigerian budget process.

He said: "We have just passed the 2014 budget and as such, it takes a while

before we can start

passing through the student funds.

"We need to wait a while before the money is released.

"We acknowledge the minor delay but the students have not been forgotten about."

When asked why the group had received no

response about their

requests, Mr Alege said: "That is very surprising to me as I am the head of

welfare and education and I haven't heard anything.

"Unfortunately because of the delay in passing the budget, such things can

easily occur.

"The government will do everything possible to

ensure that the affected

students are given their scholarships as early as possible."

hannah.rodger@eveningtimes.co.uk

Education

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