Daniel Zeichner has backed the 250 academics who have written to the Home Office to protest against the decision to deny a Cambridge research fellow ‘leave to remain’ in the UK, which will mean she cannot continue to study and teach at the University of Cambridge.
Mr Zeichner has been supporting Asiya Islam, a fellow at Newnham College, since she contacted him at the beginning of the month.
Ms Islam has lived in the UK for over ten years but she exceeded the normal limit for number of days spent outside the UK to qualify for ‘leave to remain’, primarily because she was away for the academic year 2016-17 carrying out PhD research in Delhi, India.
Daniel Zeichner said: “I’m afraid this decision, whilst unfortunate and morally wrong, does not surprise me. We have a Tory government which has, over the last nine years, unfairly cracked down on immigration with terrible results for our economy and society. They also have no idea how academia works. We shouldn’t limit people’s academic freedom and ability to carry out world-leading research.
“I have supported Dr Islam in making representations to the Home Office on her behalf, and now have written to the Home Secretary.
“It is quite clear that decision-makers have chosen not to exercise discretion in Dr Islam’s case despite the Home Office’s own internal guidance making clear that the grounds presented were more than enough in allowing her leave to remain in the UK.
“Dr Islam’s current leave expires at the end of January. Were she forced to leave the UK – her home for over a decade — it would demonstrate that this country is closed to academic talent. This will cause great and unnecessary harm to the reputation of our world-leading academic and research institutions, like the University of Cambridge.
“I call upon the Home Secretary to put right this wrong, allowing Dr Islam to continue making a significant and positive contribution to our country – and beyond – through her important research.”