Graduates from African universities will be ineligible for the UK's High Potential Individual (HPI) visa. The visa was designed to attract highly talented graduates from non-UK universities to work in a variety of disciplines in the country, including science and technology.
On May 30, the UK will begin accepting HPI applications. However, not all bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree holders will be eligible for this visa.
According to the UK Home Office, potential applicants must have earned their degrees from one of the top 50 universities included in at least two of the three ranking systems: Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, within the last five years.
The top 50 list includes about 40 institutions from the United States, France, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, Canada, and none from Africa. This criteria is not met by any African university, and this has raised concerns about the immigration policy's exclusionary stance and also the quality of education in African universities.
Analysts and critics say the UK treats African graduates unfairly by basing this visa on university world rankings. African professors have maintained that each university has its own mission and purpose and that the UK is mistaken in assuming that graduates from high-ranking universities are more skilled than graduates from Africa.
World ranking indices such as academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty to student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio favor long-established universities. These indices will put African universities at a disadvantage.
Furthermore, a ranking system that uses the number of Nobel laureates to determine academic prestige may not favor African colleges. African colleges' low rankings do not imply that their graduates are inferior to those from other continents. This low grade is merely a reflection of the financing and assistance provided to African colleges.
Many African graduates, having survived in their immediate context, have been found to be resilient, resourceful, and extremely creative in the workplace with the correct facilities, money, and supportive environments.
Many international students and scholars are unable to survive or operate in the challenging academic environment of many African schools where money is inadequate. Despite their limited resources, African academics find ways to survive and contribute to development.
Africa has the intellect, human resources, and other resources; the issue is a lack of prioritization. The budgetary allocation to education in Nigeria, for example, is embarrassingly low, at 5.68 percent of the national budget in 2021 and 4.30 percent in 2022. Many African countries have similar patterns of underfunding education, which impedes progress.
African universities struggle to attract foreign academics and researchers because they cannot afford to pay their salaries. As a result, they are uncompetitive in terms of international faculty ratio, which is one of the criteria used in world ranking systems. Indeed, African professors are paid so little that they are unable to compete with international colleges.
The fact that African universities are exempt from the new UK immigration rules serves as a reminder that we must do more as Africans to become more globally competitive. Teaching must be reinvented, research must be expanded, service must be strengthened, and infrastructure must be reorganized.