The UK is “open to global talent”, the government declared last week, with a new visa designed to woo the best overseas researchers.
But angry academics say their protests about the Home Office’s “shocking” refusal to grant residency to Dr Asiya Islam, an “unequivocally superb” Indian sociologist at Cambridge University, have fallen on deaf ears.
Hmmm, what’s her value to this country, then? Do we desperately need sociologists? Is she studying British issues?
Dr Islam, 31, an expert on gender and class in urban India, has lived in the UK for a decade but the Home Office refused her application for indefinite leave to remain in November, saying she had spent too many days out of Britain during the application period. She had spent a year in Delhi conducting field research for her PhD – which has been backed up by Cambridge University.
Well, fine. So long, love! I think we’ll cope without you. We did for a year, after all…
Prof Beverley Skeggs, distinguished professor in the sociology department at Lancaster University, says: “What hope is there for bright young global talent if they are treated like this? And if this is happening at Cambridge, one of our most elite universities, what on earth is happening elsewhere?”
The same, I hope!
Dan Engström, a professor in building construction at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, says that many international academics are watching the treatment of academics like Islam with horror.
He and his wife had been considering a move to the UK in the future, but the harsh immigration environment had “completely put me off”. He adds: “The silent acceptance of xenophobia and the hostile environment policies would have to go first.”
Hmmm, on reflection, I think I have to say: “Nope! We’re keeping those. Because it’s keeping people like you out. Somehow, I don’t think any buildings will fall down as a result…”