An “exceptionally able” engineering student is set to be deported with just three months left of her degree.
Shiromini Satkunarajah, a student at Bangor University, was arrested on Tuesday and taken to Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre.
The Home Office have since informed Ms Satkunarajah she will be sent back to her birthplace, Sri Lanka, on 28 February.
Ms Satkunarajah has lived in the UK since she was 12 years old, when her parents fled the Sri Lankan Civil War. She was originally a dependant on her father’s student visa, but was given leave to complete her secondary education in the UK when he died in 2011.
She was informed by the Home Office this week that her application for a full student visa had been denied.
Iestyn Pierce, Bangor’s head of electrical engineering, described Ms Satkunarajah as “exceptionally able and diligent”.
“I have no doubt that Shiromini would achieve first-class honours,” he said.
A relative of Ms Satkunarajah told The Independent that she was most concerned about being unable to complete her education.
“Shiromini came here when she was 12. Her whole life is here, all of her friends and family are here. She has no one in Sri Lanka, we’re a small family. She won’t be able to continue with her education.”
“Our family are devastated. My mum’s just been crying all the time.”
At the time of writing, a Change.org petition calling on Home Secretary Amber Rudd to grant Shiromini leave to remain had gathered 16,000 signatures. The campaign group 'Unis Resist Border Control' told The Independent Ms Shivani Jegarajah from Justitia Chambers would be lodging a judicial review to stop Tuesday's impending removal from taking place.
A spokesperson for the Free University of Sheffield, who have been campaigning for Ms Satkunarajah to remain in the UK, said: “The deportation of Shiromini is emblematic of the cruelty of the Home office more widely.
“Previous interventions in deportations have had success with contacting flight companies to ask them to use moral discretion and halt the flight: in this case, contact Manchester Airport and Qatar Airways.”
Sanaz Raji from Unis Resist Border Controls said: "Although Shiromini is an exceptional student with a bright future ahead, we advocate for all students, regardless of their academic aptitude. No one should be denied the right to an education."
We have seen far too many international students woefully mistreated both by universities who use us as ‘cash cows’ to financially prop up their institutions, while the Home Office attacks us in order to justify their racist and xenophobic migration policies.”
The Home Office said it would not comment on the details of an individual case.
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