About 50 students who received scholarships from a Nigerian government agency to study at the University of Manitoba fear deportation after their tuition has gone unpaid for several months.
The international students were promised their tuition and living expenses would be covered for the duration of a four-year degree program through the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) in Nigeria. The program sponsors bright students who can’t afford university tuition to study overseas.
But those students’ degrees are now in jeopardy after the program was cut.
If the students want to wrap up their degrees, they’ve been told they’ll have to find a way to pay their tuition.
One of the affected students, Christian Okuudiaa, said he hasn’t received money for basic living expenses like food or rent for a year.
“You can’t even think right, you are hungry,” Okuudiaa told CTV Winnipeg on Thursday. “You want to write the paper, but your stomach is telling you something else.”
The economics major said his tuition has not been paid for three semesters, meaning he can’t register for classes in January.
“If you don’t pay this money you are out of the school. And if you’re out of this school, that means you can’t be in this county,” Okuudiaa said.
Full-time first year international students at the University of Manitoba pay an estimated $13,600 for five full courses. Canadian and permanent residents pay about $4,000.
Political science major Gift Amadi, who is also attending the university on the RSSDA scholarship, said he has about a year left to finish his degree.
“Going back would really be a setback for me,” he said.
Amadi was able to pay for his tuition with a bursary awarded by the school, but he’s still hoping the RSSDA program will be fully reinstated for his peers.
“They will be, I believe, the very generation that will turn the plight of Nigeria, and I believe Africa, around,” Amadi said.
The University of Manitoba said it is working with the affected students on a case-by-case basis.
School officials said they haven’t been in contact the Nigerian agency for about two weeks.
Some of the students are now trying to fundraise to cover the cost of their tuition.
Source: CTV News