The University and College Union (UCU) has today (Tuesday) called on the Home Office to urgently review its decision to deport Leicester-based academic Dr Furaha Asani to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

Dr Asani has never been to the DRC, has no friends or family there and does not speak the official language. Although she holds a DRC passport, Dr Asani was born and raised in Nigeria before she moved to the UK to undertake her PhD, and has since spent several years working as a medical researcher at the University of Leicester.

In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, the union said that sending Dr Asani to an unfamiliar country where she has no support network and doesn’t speak the language would place her in an extremely vulnerable position.

UCU said Dr Asani’s case was symptomatic of an aggressive approach to immigration that lacks compassion and nuance, and said the government’s “hostile environment” policy is creating significant hurdles for international staff. It said the UK needs to send a clear message that international staff are welcome in our universities, and called for coordinated action from the government to tackle the practical and financial barriers facing international staff and students wishing to work and study in the UK.

UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said:

‘Forcibly removing Dr Asani to a country she doesn’t know and where she has no support network will place her in an extremely vulnerable position. I urge the Home Secretary to review this decision.

‘More generally, Furaha’s case is symptomatic of a wider approach to immigration which lacks compassion and nuance, and is divorced from the reality of many academics’ lives. At a time when Brexit is creating much uncertainty, we need the government to send a clear message that international staff are welcome in our universities.’

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