1,400 UK Academics Come Out In Support Of Indian Cambridge Scholar Who Was Asked To Leave Country
Over 1,400 academics from universities across the globe have appealed to British authorities to reconsider their decision to reject Asiya Islam, an award-winning Indian sociologist at Cambridge, permission to stay in the country.
Asiya Islam, 31, is a junior research fellow in the Cambridge sociology department. Her request to stay in the UK was rejected last week on the grounds that she has spent more time than allowed outside the country. Asiya, however, claims that the time was spent doing fieldwork in India for her PhD on ‘Gender, Class, and Labour in the New Economy of Urban India’.
Asiya, who was conferred with the Zakir Hussain Medal for Academic Excellence at the Aligarh Muslim University, was in New Delhi as part of her PhD research. The time spent was more than the permissible number of days allowed abroad to secure ‘indefinite leave to remain’ status.
She told The Guardian that she is shocked and horrified at the Home Office decision and intends to appeal against its refusal to allow her to stay.
An open letter to the Home Office by the protesters said: “Her individual case is distressing, but it also sends a foreboding signal…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”.
Islam said that the increasing number of signatories to the open letter shows that “the issue is much larger. When will the UK Home Office take notice?”
She said: “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”.
“This puts a dent in the reputation of the UK as a global academic leader, making it a less attractive destination for those seeking world-class excellence in education.”
Rejecting her application, the Home Office told her that since she was only 31 years old, she could “reintegrate back into life and society in India”, and “re-establish a private life and form new friendships”.
A spokesperson for Newnham College, Cambridge, said: “Without talented academics like 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”.
Alison Rose, principal of the College, added: “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.”