The new British visa system, which aims to attract the “smartest and best” graduates from around the world, does not include any African universities in the list of institutions from which title holders can come.
Some have complained about the exclusion of African talent, although Africans who have attended universities on the list may apply.
The UK program will be available to former students from top universities outside the UK who have completed their studies over the last five years.
Graduates will be eligible regardless of place of birth and will not need a job offer to apply.
But the way the list of the best universities in the world has been compiled means that no African college is included.
To be eligible, a person must attend at least two Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, or The Academic Ranking of World Universities in the top 50 years of graduation.
The list included 37 universities – most of them in the United States, but some in Europe and Asia.
“These rankings are based on criteria that favor universities that have existed for hundreds of years and have access to a large amount of funding,” Amina Ahmed El-Imam of the University of Ilorin in Nigeria told New Scientist magazine.
“For someone from Nigeria who has earned a doctorate in Britain, it is heartbreaking to see that there are still processes that inadvertently exclude Africans,” she added.
“Does this visa mean that there are no single graduates of African universities with high potential?”
Some scientists have expressed disappointment that no South Asian, Latin American or African university has been added to the list.
Christopher Trisos, director and chief researcher at the University of Cape Town, told the BBC it was a deeply unfair approach.
If the UK is to play a role in addressing the great challenges of this century, such as access to energy, climate change and pandemics, he said, “it must recognize and incorporate the diverse skills and in-depth knowledge that many university graduates have in developing the country.”
A Interior Ministry spokesman said the combination of university lists used “provides institutions with independent validation and opens up the possibility for new international universities to move up the list and join the list in the future.”
They added that each of the eligible universities attracts students from all over the world to study and that there are “several other suitable routes for graduates from other universities, including graduate pathways, skilled workers and global talent”.
British Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “These paths mean that the United Kingdom will develop as a leading international center for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
“We want tomorrow’s businesses to be built here today, so I urge students to take this incredible opportunity and build their careers here.”