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Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner challenges Home Secretary over Newnham academic

Zeichner’s letter condemns the Home Office for denying Dr Asiya Islam leave to remain

The Labour MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner, has spoken out over the Home Office's refusal to allow Newnham College research fellow indefinite leave for remain (ILR).

Islam, who started a Sociology PhD at Cambridge in 2015 after completing her Master's at the London School of Economics, had been a UK resident for over 10 years. She has been given until the end of January to leave the UK, on the grounds that she had spent an extended period conducting research for her PhD in Delhi. The university has said this fieldwork was fundamental to her programme of study.

Zeichner, who held a detailed discussion with Islam last week, said: "Britain risks being left behind by a mean-spirited box ticking culture with no regard to ensuring the brightest and best contribute to world leading research."

Islam's PhD research, which addressed issues of gender, class, and labour in urban India, received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Zeichner says that the academic is "an asset to our country".

The MP commented: “Ministers need to understand that many academics have to work abroad as part of their job. This case is hugely significant and its outcome will be watched carefully by the academic community in the UK and the world. I hope the Home Secretary reconsiders so Britain’s hard-won reputation for global academic excellence is not harmed.”

Zeichner's Office noted that the Home Secretary has the power to act in such cases, such as when Durham academics Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin and Dr Arely Cruz-Santiago, faced with deportation, were granted permission to stay in Britain.

Zeichner's comments are the latest in a campaign on behalf of Dr Islam. Yesterday, Dr Jo Grady, General Secretary of UCU, wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel urging her to reconsider the academic's case.

At the beginning of January, Dr Islam tweeted that, despite a petition signed by over 2,000 academics and numerous letters, there has still been no action from the Home Office.

Cover image courtesy of Ms Alex Mayer, Office of Daniel Zeichner MP.