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Academics protest as Cambridge researcher told to leave UK


Asiya Islam
Asiya Islam

MORE than 250 academics have written an open letter to the Home Office to protest its decision to protest its decision to allow a Cambridge research fellow leave to remain in the UK.

Asiya Islam, a PhD in sociology from the University of Cambridge, will have to leave the country once her visa expires in January, preventing her from continuing her studies.

Islam has been in the UK for more than a decade, first studying at the London School of Economics and recently at Cambridge.

Last week, the 31-year-old received a letter from the Home Office rejecting an application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. This was based on the fact that she had spent quite a number of days out of the country during the period covered by her application.
Arguing that the decision is unfair, Islam said she was required to be out of the UK to complete research for her PhD.

Between July 2016 to June 2017, Islam was in India to complete her PhD research on ‘Gender, Class, and Labour in the New Economy of Urban India’.

Reacting to the rejection of her application, Islam tweeted: “Hardly surprising that under this govt, there is an attack on academics, which is driving away global researchers. Good luck building a ‘Global Britain’”.

In the open letter, academics argue that the harsh immigration rules will tarnish the appeal of UK universities to international students.

It warns that Islam’s case sends “a foreboding signal” that “UK universities will continue to lose the talented PhD researchers that they have invested years in training”.

A spokesperson for Newnham College was quoted as saying: “Without talented academics like Dr Islam, the University of Cambridge would not be a global leader in research.

“Dr Asiya Islam is a highly valued member of the research community at Newnham College and the University of Cambridge. Dr Islam has an impressive academic record: she was a Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge, was awarded the best degree performance award at the London School of Economics, and received the Dr Zakir Hussain medal for academic excellence from Aligarh Muslim University.

Islam plans to appeal against the decision.