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Exeter student banned from US trip: 'this is really sad'

The Vice Chancellor of Exeter University has said President Trump's US travel ban “undermines the principle of academic freedom and jeopardises the advancement of knowledge between nations.”

It comes as a PhD student from the university was banned from boarding a plane at Heathrow earlier this week.

The Iraqi postgraduate was set to board a plane to America, where he was due to present an academic paper at a prestigious US institution.

The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, had obtained his visa two months ago and had lived and studied in the UK for the past five years.

I was really surprised to be stopped from travelling to the United States as I had got a visa to travel months ago at the US embassy in London so I could present a paper on my specialist area along with two academics I am working with.

As I was about to board the plane, they looked at my passport and stopped me and someone who said they were from Homeland Security arrived and said it was because of President Trump’s executive order. This is really sad because we have great collaboration with academic colleagues in the United States and I had been invited to present my work to them months ago.

It was a shock. But I am really pleased by the support my colleagues at Exeter University have offered me. I have studied in the UK for five years doing postgraduate research which I hope will benefit everyone around the world. If this Order stops academics collaborating to improve people’s lives that is a sad thing.

– Anonymous student banned from US travel
Credit: PA stills
Demonstrators in Falmouth

The University of Exeter is proud to be an international community that welcomes and nurtures the talent of students and academic staff from around the world.

Without free movement of people and ideas the whole world suffers, and this is why we believe the imposition of travel restrictions by the US government based on nationality both undermines the principle of academic freedom and jeopardises the advancement of knowledge between nations.

At Exeter, we collaborate widely with institutions abroad, including in the United States, and we cannot condone a policy that restricts these freedoms, curtails intellectual partnerships or impedes research.

– Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter