There are a variety of reasons South African parents with young children are keen to send their children to a UK university. While you might want to give your child an educational edge, moving an entire family overseas can be stressful and costly. What’s more, it’s almost impossible for South Africans to maintain their quality of life when moving to the UK. However, there is a way you can start saving to send your child to a UK university and continue to live in South Africa.
Times have changed, and sending your South African child to a UK university is no longer a far-fetched dream. Before we get to the how let’s first look at the why you’d want to do this.
Internationalising Your Child’s Education
The UK has long been renowned for its high quality of universities.
Besides the world-renowned establishments like Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics (to name but a few), there are literally hundreds of universities and colleges across the UK. Many of these institutions are among the finest in the world and guarantee a top-notch tertiary education for your child.
In addition to the academic benefits, studying overseas will broaden your child’s horizons in a way that no other experience can.
This valuable perspective on the world is something that few people in can claim, putting your child into an exclusive percentile of the professional world. This alone is enough to convince many parents to save up and send their children abroad for their studies.
It makes it much easier for your child to get a UK passport
While your child is studying they will hold a Tier 4 student visa. This visa is specifically for non-UK citizens studying in the UK. While studying on this visa one may work in only very limited and rigidly define scenarios. To get full-time work in the UK, a Tier 4 holder will need to apply for a different visa.
Most non-UK citizens wishing to work in the UK need to apply for a Tier 2 visa. The challenge most employers face when recruiting nationals from overseas is that they must first show that there was no-one available in the local labour market to fill the role. Potential employers must, therefore, conduct a resident labour market test that involves advertising the role to local residents before they can nominate an overseas recruit to fill the role.
Here’s the good news: Non-UK citizens who have completed a course at a UK university are treated differently.
Your child, as a UK university graduate, will be treated as a local resident and any employer looking to recruit them from within the UK would be exempt from having to advertise the role first. This means that your child will be given an equal chance to fill a role with a UK employer and places them at an advantage over any applicant applying from overseas.
A Tier 2 visa holder who has spent five continuous years in the UK on that visa, your child can apply for the UK’s version of permanent residence – known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR). After holding ILR for one year, they may apply to naturalise as a British citizen. At this point, they can apply for a British passport and start reaping the rewards of the decisions you took many years prior.
Don’t leave South Africa for your children’s sake
Given the clear benefits of a UK university education, it’s not surprising that many families consider moving their whole family to the UK to give their children a chance at studying abroad. In these situations, most choose to emigrate while their children are still in school. The thinking is that this will make the transition to university easier as the child and the family will have had time to put down roots.
Our advice to people who find themselves in this situation is: Take a step back and look hard at your options. Full-scale emigration from South Africa is not always the answer. There are enormous social and financial costs involved, particularly if you have a family and an established life in South Africa.
It’s no secret that South Africans who immigrate to the UK will have to take a massive cut in salary, standard of living and bear other stresses involved with moving young children half way across the globe.
The solution is much simpler
Stay in South Africa. Enjoy the quality of life. Grow a little older with your friends and family while your children finish their schooling at one of the many excellent private or quintile five (former model C) schools across the country.
While you’re living in South Africa you can begin to save up for their eventual UK university education. We have put together a service that facilitates your children’s relocation to the UK on a Student visa and their eventual naturalisation as British citizens.
As a parent, you always want to ensure that your children have the best chances in life; their university education is a massive part of that. With all the uncertainty around the future of South African universities, it may be time to consider the best way to future-proof your child’s education and career.
By Gary Kockott