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'Exceptional' student faces deportation three months before graduation

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.”

The relative also told The Independent that the family had been offered legal support after seeing the campaign on social media. 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.  




Campaigners from 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, and all the more horrific when we consider that Shiromini’s case is in no way an isolated incident. Under Theresa May’s leadership the Home Office wrongly deported 48,000 international students.

“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.

The Home Office said it would not comment on the details of an individual case.

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