Sid-Ahmed Kerzabi, an Algerian historian, has been denied entry into the country. The 81-year-old academic was denied a visa and therefore an entry into the UK on October 28th because there was insufficient proof that he was not planning to settle in Britain, according to the Immigration Office.
Kerzabi was travelling to the UK to give a keynote speech at the University of Oxford. The academic had already booked tickets back to his own country at the time.
“Universities and academia as a profession rely by nature on the exchange of free ideas, often across borders”.
Kerzabi publicly questioned the validity of the decision and claims that he has been significantly put off returning to the country. Other academics have expressed concerns about the impact on similar conferences and are worried about academic collaboration being disrupted.
Dr J. Merton, Professor of Modern History at the University of Nottingham, told Impact that “universities and academia as a profession rely by nature on the exchange of free ideas, often across borders”. He went on to say that cases such as that of Sid-Ahmed Kerzabi “demonstrate the way in which restrictive immigration policy works to thwart that exchange, potentially narrowing our collective horizons – both as academics and as human beings”.
“There is a greater need for interaction with academics from other cultures in order to get a broader understanding of different methodologies and approaches”.
The history department at UoN hosted overseas academics for Black History Month in October. The department held a conference with main speaker JoNina Abron Ervin, a former Black Panther member, discussing the way that the organisation made an impact in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr J. Merton strongly emphasises the importance of conferences like these, claiming that they “improve our department’s understanding, togetherness and work no end”.
Economics student Natasha Radia echoes the general discomfort towards this case. She told Impact: “There is a greater need for interaction with academics from other cultures in order to get a broader understanding of different methodologies and approaches. Thus, the harsh regulations towards obtaining visas into the country limit the opportunity for many scholars.”
The head of UoN’s International Support Services, Deborah Webb, told Impact: “We are unaware of any similar problems for the University of Nottingham”.