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Dr Asiya Islam hands in open letter signed by 2,000 academics to Home Office

She asks that the Home Office’s decision to deny her indefinite leave to remain in the UK be reversed


Dr Asiya Islam, a junior research fellow at Cambridge University, has handed in an open letter to the Home Office, asking for her indefinite leave to remain in the UK be reversed.

Last week, Labour MP for Cambridge David Zeichner commented: "I hope the Home Secretary reconsiders so Britain’s hard-won reputation for global academic excellence is not harmed.”

Her application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK was rejected in November 2019, on the grounds she had spent too much time outside of the country without ‘exceptional reasons’, despite the necessity of this for her PhD research. She had travelled to Delhi for a single extended period of time, in order to conduct fieldwork central to the PhD proposal that had won her a place at Cambridge University, with a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Dr Islam told The Tab Cambridge: "Despite almost three months of fighting the Home Office decision, international media coverage, an open letter signed by 2000 academics, and direct representations to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, I have not heard anything at all from the Home Office.

"Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today said that, in post-Brexit UK, people will come before passports. But the absolute silence on my case signals otherwise. I hope that handing in the letter to the Home Office tomorrow will draw attention to this discrepancy. I also hope that the Home Secretary, who has previously intervened in immigration cases, will finally take notice and consequently ensure that good sense and fairness prevail.

"The case is being closely watched by academics worldwide, having been reported in the New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, and many other media outlets. If the decision is not urgently overturned, global researchers will be rightly discouraged from choosing to come to a country where they could be penalised for doing academic work. As the UK leaves Europe at the end of the month, this will have serious ramifications for its position as a leader in education."

Though she appealed against the rejection, her appeal hearing is scheduled for the 27th February, almost a whole month after her current visa will expire on the 30th January. Dr Islam is supported by UCU General Secretary Dr Jo Grady, who also wrote to the Home Secretary on her behalf earlier this month.

Header image from @asiyaislam