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An appeal to readers

Can you help one of London Met’s international PhD students?

The clock is ticking for London Metropolitan University’s 2,700 international students, who face deportation if they cannot find an alternative institution before Christmas.

With any luck, the government’s London Met task force, which has a budget of £2 million, will be able to help the majority stay and finish their studies. Alarmingly, however, there appears to be no special provision for the 108 PhD students who may soon find themselves on a plane back home.

With some difficulty, we have been able to interview a handful in this week’s issue. Their supervisors are clearly pulling out the stops to have them placed elsewhere—but their transfer options are severely limited. PhD topics are so specialised—one student’s project involves DH Lawrence and Persian literature—and so finding alternative institutions and supervisors will not be straightforward.

Here at Research Fortnight we would like to do our bit to help.

One idea is to try to match available PhD students with any of our readers in UK universities who might have an interest in taking on a fully funded international PhD candidate. If you are a principal investigator, a head of department or faculty, a director of research, or someone who works in a Doctoral Training Centre, we want to hear from you.

London Met has agreed to compile a list of the candidates’ PhD topics (without their names). Once this is available, we will provide you with a link to it.

In the meantime, those readers who would like to register an interest in taking on a London Met PhD student are invited to send a short email to Ehsan Masood at editor@researchresearch.com. Please include your name, department, institution and broad area of research interest.

UK society, as well as the individuals concerned, stands to pay a heavy price for the needless loss of more than 100 PhD students. Perhaps most of all, it is a loss to the enterprise of learning, and to those future generations that might have taken forward the ideas being developed now.

There is a misguided perception out there that most international students are independently wealthy, or at least well-to-do. That may be true for some, but London Met’s international students on the whole do not come from the world of the well-heeled. Among those at London Met’s Holloway Road campus whose careers hang in the balance, you won’t find many sons of IT millionaires or daughters of textile magnates.

Students, particularly those from developing countries, are far more likely to have borrowed money in order to pursue their education.

For many of them, a successful outcome will be the difference between a low-income job and a middle-income one. For others, the degree will give them enough knowledge and contacts to set up their own businesses.

We sincerely hope that the government’s task force will ensure that these students’ life chances aren’t dashed. And we invite our readers to join us in finding places for as many PhD candidates as we can.