Student appeals for help in legal fight

AN AMERICAN PhD student whose visa has expired is vowing to continue her battle to stay in the country and be reinstated at a university to complete her work.

Sanaz Raji lost her scholarship at Leeds University two years into her PhD because the institution stated she had not made sufficient academic progress.

However, she claimed the university did not follow its own procedures during the decision to stop her scholarship and that she was pushed out because she had criticised the supervision she received from the university’s Institute of Communications Studies. The university has denied this.

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Ms Raji unsuccessfully appealed against the university to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. Now she says she has been awarded legal aid and is taking advice over whether she can call for a judicial review. But her legal battle, which has gone on for more than three years, could be undermined because her student visa has expired.

She said: “I applied to be able to stay because of the exceptional circumstances. I cannot continue to fight my case if I am deported.”

This was also rejected and an appeal against this was not upheld at a tribunal hearing this summer during which Ms Razi represented herself. Now she has applied for an oral hearing at an upper tier immigration tribunal, but is appealing for anyone who can support her with legal advice.

She said: “I want to be able to continue my study but I need to be living here in order to be able to contest my case.”