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Academics protest as Newnham research fellow denied Leave to Remain

Dr Asiya Islam denied by the Home Office

Dr Asiya Islam's application for Indefinite Leave to Remain was denied by the Home Office earlier this week, resulting in her being forced to leave the country upon the expiry of her visa in January.

Dr Islam has been resident in the UK for over 10 years, embarking upon her masters at the London School of Economics in 2009, before starting her PhD at the Cambridge University Sociology department in 2015. She now holds a three-year junior research fellowship at Newnham. She will be unable to complete this if the Home Office's decision holds up in Court, as Dr Islam plans to challenge the decision, according to The Guardian.

She told the Guardian:

“By rejecting my and other academics’ applications for leave to remain on the basis of their days out of the country conducting crucial fieldwork, the Home Office is signalling that global researchers are not welcome in the country."

According to a thread posted by Dr Islam, which has since being posted on the 6th of November been liked over 4,700 times, she was denied Leave to Remain due to being out of the country for too many days over the course of those 10 years. She attributes this to being in India for her PhD research, on ‘Gender, Class, and Labour in the New Economy of Urban India.’

The Principal of Newnham, Alison Rose, told The Guardian:

“Early career research fellows at Newnham College and at the University of Cambridge are the academic leaders of tomorrow. We received applications for this post from researchers across the world, and Dr Islam was an outstanding candidate.”

The open letter to the Home Office advocating against their decision has been signed over 200 times at point of publication, not only by academics from Cambridge, but other UK institutions including Oxford and UCL.

In the open letter, they argue that such treatment of academics by the home office will result in "the UK academic community’s global competitiveness suffering 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."

Dr Islam's considers her treatment as part of the UK Government's wider "hostile environment" policy, designed to make it harder for non-UK citizens to live and work in the UK. Her case is especially noteworthy, as her job should mean that she is within those eligible for Leave to Remain.