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WHO calls foul over visa denial for UK forum

The World Health Organisation has raised concerns about the UK’s immigration policy regarding visiting academics, after several scholars were denied visas to attend the WHO Global Symposium in Liverpool.

The Home Office said it does not discuss individual cases. Photo: flickr/Maina Kiai

The Home Office confirmed it was aware of the case

The organisers are reportedly compiling records of problems which resulted in at least 10 researchers not being allowed to attend to conference.

“Tough immigration policies may impact on academic cooperation”

One delegate was Sabu Kochupurackal Ulahannan, a doctoral candidate at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Kerala, India.

The Home Office said Ulahannan was too poor to come to the UK, with “insufficient balance” in his account. But the student said it was discriminatory in a blog post, and in correspondence with a newspaper.

Organisers said they were “saddened” by the decisions.

“We are committed to finding ways to improve access to forums such as the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, which promote international debate and exchange on critical global concerns,” a spokesperson added.

Masoud Dara, a communicable diseases coordinator at the WHO, went further; noting the impact of immigration restrictions on global education.

“The tough immigration policies may have impact on academic cooperation, if specific measures are not put in place to facilitate scientists’ travel to and from various countries,” he said.

A Home Office spokesperson said the government was aware of the case, and that “The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that they satisfy the immigration rules.”

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