A NUMBER of self-sponsored Ghanaian students pursuing their education in the United Kingdom are reportedly facing severe financial hardships as a result of inadequate funding.
Some are facing eviction while others have been deported for breaching immigration rules by working over the country’s stipulated 20 working hours for students.
Investigations also confirmed that some students have had their education terminated due to their inability to pay their tuition fees while a few are surviving at the mercy of charitable organisations such as the Salvation Army Church.
A thorough investigation into the issue has revealed that a large number of students have been affected. Only a lucky few have their parents and guardians providing enough funds for their education.
An eminent Ghanaian, Nat Biney, who is a Magistrate at the Bolton Magistrate Court in the UK Midlands, revealed that he had to intervene to thwart the deportation of three Ghanaian students at a university in Bolton.
He said before his action one student had already been sent home by the UK Boarder Agency.
Mr. Biney said when the issue was reported to him, as an opinion leader of the Ghanaian community in Bolton, he took steps and realised there are more Ghanaian students who are yet to find money for their maintenance, let alone pay their fees.
He could not disclose the names of the affected students for obvious reasons, but he described their situation as critical and in urgent need of attention.
He said landlords have evicted some of these students who are now being temporarily accommodated by friends and well-wishers.
Some of them have expired visas they cannot renew because they are no longer recognised by the universities and therefore cannot be provided with documents. They also have no funds in their bank accounts for the renewal processes.
Elizabeth Aniteye, a university worker, also noted that some of the students have virtually nothing and are solely dependent on charities. “Some of the students have to be fed daily by the Salvation Army Church in Manchester”, she said,
Currently there are 63 official students on various Ghanaian scholarship programmes and there are thousands more who are self-sponsored. They are the worst hit. Some of them claim they had to receive remittances from relatives in Ghana to enable them meet their financial obligations.
It is estimated that there are about 30 students on Commonwealth scholarships as 10 are awarded every year. Those in this category are much better off.
Kwasi Bampo, a PhD student in Finance Development at the Manchester University who is being sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat, told the High Commissioner that, “There have been instances where delays in the release of the funds have affected my research and other academic activities”.
Students on the GETFund scholarships have also complained about severe delays when they are due to receive their remittances. They said the situation has placed untold hardships on them.
It was revealed that the situation has been compounded due to the fact that, in a bid to meet their financial targets to qualify for adequate matching funds from the government to run their institutions, universities from the UK organise fairs in developing countries such as Ghana to entice prospective students to the UK without providing any guidance and funding, hence the unbearable plight faced by the Ghanaian students.
On their part, Ghanaian parents, in their eagerness to seek quality education for their wards, woefully fail to investigate the assertions made by these universities. In one instance a student had only 300 pounds in her bank account a month after she arrived in the UK for further studies.
Reacting to the plight of the students, Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK, Professor Danso Boafo expressed disappointment at the situation saying it is avoidable. He said there is an urgent need for prompt action to help address the issue. He promised the affected students the support of his office, and for that matter the government of Ghana.
He warned parents to have the welfare and future of their wards at heart and provide them with logistics that could prepare them for life in the future.
He adviced parents to make sure the welfare and comfort of their wards is secure when they move to a foreign land to pursue an education.
From Nana Sifa Twum, Manchester – UK
Monday, February 1, 2010
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