The University of Sheffield was accused of conspiring with the government’s illegal immigration policy after removing an enrolled Ph.D. student upon hearing news of his detainment issued by the Home Office.


The Iraqi Ph.D. student named Ahmed Sedeeq, age 30, who previously faced danger in his hometown for being known to be an atheist, had been enrolled in his final year of a computer science doctorate with the University of Sheffield before a detainment was issued by immigration officers December 18. A Home Office routing reporting session noticed an issue with Sedeeq’s visa.

He first transferred to the UK with a student visa, and although the Home Office confirmed his visa remained valid, Sadeeq overstayed his legal residence due to a misunderstanding.

Upon altering the University of the Morton Hall immigration center’s detention, Sedeeq was immediately withdrawn from the Ph.D. programme, despite already having paid tuition fees.

A public outcry followed resulting in over 11,500 signatures in a petition created to help keep Sedeeq in the United Kingdom. As a result, the Home Office issued his release with a notice that his current asylum claim remains under review.

Despite his release, Sedeeq has yet to confirm his status at the University of Sheffield regarding the completion of his Ph.D. A university spokesperson reported to The Independent stating that they are awaiting written confirmation regarding Sedeeq’s student status from the House Office, as required by immigration law.

A published open letter has been signed by over 300 academics An open letter has now been published, signed by more than 300 academics, hoping to urge the Home Secretary and university officials to allow Sedeeq to complete his Ph.D. studies.

The university has received accusations of subjecting students from abroad to Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy in regards to illegal immigrants.

According to The Independent, an academic at the university and signatory of this petition, Anandi Ramamurthy stated, “Ahmed has the right to finish his Ph.D. He has paid personally at an international-fee rate for his studies and has almost finished.

“It would be a travesty of justice to stop him from completing his Ph.D.”

“No Knowledge”

Another signatory as well as a member of the Unis Resist Border Control group, Sanaz Raji, claimed that the University of Sheffield was “colluding” with Government policies stating: “The University of Sheffield cannot claim that they had no knowledge that Ahmed was an asylum seeker.

“They along with the Student Advice Centre at Sheffield Students’ Union knew that Ahmed had applied for asylum in 2014, yet he received little to no support for his dire situation”.

She also mentioned that Sedeeq paid £57,000 towards tuition fees for his Ph.D.

“The university cannot market itself as a ‘global university’ or even a ‘sanctuary university’ for refugees when it charges outrageously high tuition fees for non-EU international students while colluding with the Home Office by subjecting them to the brutalities of the hostile environment policy” Raji stated.

In addition, she noted that this past year, the Unis Resist Border Control group has witnessed an increase in deportations and detentions of migrant lecturers, staff and students.

Sedeeq explained that he felt “surrounded by uncertainty” and overwhelmed by the chance of detainment without warning.

A University of Sheffield spokesperson stated: “The University of Sheffield is aware of the recent detention of Ahmed Sadeeq in relation to visa compliance. Our Student Support staff have been in regular contact with both Ahmed and his solicitor since we were made aware of the case some weeks ago, including liaising with his legal advisors over the Christmas period.

It was also noted that until written confirmation regarding his status is received the university will be unable to restore his enrolment with the programme.


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