UK shutting its doors as academic visa issues slash international reputation

The SNP’s Westminster spokesperson for Education has said that the UK government is “shutting its doors” after a number of international academics were denied visas to visit UK conferences.

Speaking during Education Questions on Monday (12 November), Carol Monaghan MP raised the case of Dr Mohamed Alnor, a Professor from Sudan International University, who was denied entry to the UK to attend a conference in Glasgow in October, despite spending over $2,500 (£1890) in visa fees.

That same month, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed alarm about the impact of the UK government’s immigration policy on international academic cooperation after 10 delegates to a conference in Liverpool were denied visas.

One of the delegates had travelled from India in an initiative which was partly funded by the UK government.

In response to this, the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Sam Gyimah MP, insisted that the UK was “open and welcoming.”

Commenting, Carol Monaghan MP said:

“These examples of the UK’s science sector being denied vital collaboration and cooperation with international academics is yet another consequence of the Tories’ hostile environment, denying visas to those working on the ground to improve the health of some of the poorest people in the world.

“This is becoming common for oversees academics, in particular those from the Middle East, Africa and India, and is causing serious reputational damage to the UK.

“While we know the Tories’ Brexit disaster is placing our world-leading science and research sectors under great threat, it is clear that the UK government is already content to shutting its doors on valuable international academic collaborations and cooperation.

“It is absolutely essential that the UK has an immigration system which allows mobility and movement for our academic community, and these issues must be addressed immediately.”