Academics, students and activists have come out in support of a Cambridge scholar who was denied permanent residency by the UK Home office for spending too much time in India. They have signed an open letter to the Home Office lobby to reconsider the decision on Dr Asiya Islam’s Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application.
According to the letter, Dr Asiya Islam’s individual case was distressing, but it also sent a foreboding signal that despite policy changes to protect Tier 2 researchers, UK universities will continue to lose the talented PhD researchers that they have invested years in training.
“The UK academic community’s global competitiveness suffers from the loss of the valuable fieldwork data and expertise, grant funding, and international research profiles brought in by non-EU postgraduates transitioning to staff positions at UK universities,” read the letter.
On November 6, Dr Islam took to Twitter to inform that the Home Office refused her application of IRL saying she was out of the country for too many days. Dr Islam said she was in Delhi conducting fieldwork for her PhD from Cambridge University but the Home Office opined Dr Islam “failed to provide any exceptional reasons" in support of her out of time application.
They posted a letter which I only managed to pick up last night. What are these ‘exceptionally complex issues’, you ask? I was out of the country for too many days. And why was that? I was conducting fieldwork for a year in Delhi for a PhD which I was doing at @Cambridge_Uni.— Asiya Islam (@asiyaislam) November 6, 2019
The Home Office went on to state that while Dr Islam lived in the UK for a “short period”, she can re-integrate back into life and society in India and establish a private life.
“Additionally it is considered that you could maintain the friendships you have established whilst in the UK via modern means of communication,” said the department.
Dr Asiya Islam, who has been living in the UK for the past 10 years, expressed her anguish on Twitter and blamed the government for attacking the academics, driving away global researchers. “Good luck building a ‘Global Britain’ (LOL) when you can’t even support global universities. #BrexitShambles and #HostileEnvironment – need I say more?” she tweeted.