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African academics express anger over new UK visa scheme

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Some African academics and students are crying foul over the new visa scheme introduced by the United Kingdom.

The new UK visa scheme designed to attract the “brightest and best” graduates from around the world does not include any African universities on its list of institutions where those degree-holders can come from.

The list of eligible universities from 2021, published online by the UK government, featured 20 US universities, including Harvard, Yale, and MIT.

The scheme opens on Monday and will be available to alumni of the top non-UK universities who graduated in the past five years.

Per the new scheme, eligible graduates, regardless of where they were born, will not need a job offer in order to apply.

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Successful applicants will be given a work visa lasting two years if they hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and three years if they hold a PhD.

To qualify, a person must have attended a university that appeared in the top 50 of at least two of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, or The Academic Ranking of World Universities in the year they graduated.

Successful applicants will be given a work visa lasting two years if they hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and three years if they hold a PhD.

They will then be able to switch to other long-term employment visas if they meet certain requirements.

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Some academics have voiced their disappointment that no South Asian, Latin American or African universities have been included on the list.

Dr Amina Ahmed El-Imam, a lecturer at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria, wrote in a Twitter post that new opportunities like this “should be considerate of and including Africa talent.”

The visa will cost £715 plus the immigration health surcharge, a fee which allows migrants to the UK to use the NHS.

Graduates will be able to bring their families, although must also have maintenance funds of at least £1,270.

They will also have to pass a security and criminality check and be proficient in English to at least the B1 intermediate level, defined as having the “fluency to communicate without effort with native speakers”.

The scheme follows changes to allow foreign nationals to stay and work in Britain for up to two years instead of having to leave after finishing a degree.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The route means that the UK will grow as a leading international hub for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

“We want the businesses of tomorrow to be built here today, which is why I call on students to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to forge their careers here.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “I am proud to be launching this new and exciting route as part of our points-based immigration system which puts ability and talent first, not where someone comes from.”

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