Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Letter from SOAS Director Paul Webley

Dear colleagues

Now that we have reached an agreement with students about a way
forward in the wake of the UK Border Control visit on 12 June, it’s
important to recap and reflect on the progress we have made.

Firstly, I would like to thank all those who sent messages of support
during and after the protest. Thankfully many colleagues are aware
that the allegations being made against SOAS are untrue, most notably
that we had invited immigration officials on to our campus. This is
something that has caused a great deal of concern and anxiety to our
staff, students, stakeholders and peers.

Throughout this entire process SOAS has acted in good faith and in
accordance with the law. SOAS is obliged to co-operate with the
authorities and not breach any law that could lead to prosecution.

Following yesterday’s agreement, I have written to the Home Secretary
requesting that he grants exceptional leave to remain in the UK to
those cleaners who are still being detained. I have also asked for the
immediate return of those who have been deported and exceptional leave
to remain for those forced into hiding following Friday’s events.

I have agreed to open discussions with ISS, and separately with
UNISON, UCU and the SU, to review in detail the events of last Friday
and will discuss the possibility of bringing cleaning services
in-house at the next scheduled meeting of Governing Body. In addition
to this, colleagues will meet with the relevant unions to discuss
health and safety issues relating to immigration visits.

I plan to share my views with other university heads about the wider
implications of the Government's policy on immigration and any likely
impact it may have on our staff and students.

As Director and Principal of SOAS I will continue to work tirelessly
to ensure the success of this institution, and encourage a respectful
exchange of views in an open and constructive manner. In the light of
this week’s protest, we need to reflect and remind ourselves what it
means to be a university, in particular, an institution that prides
itself on being the home of international political debate in the UK.
The events of the past few days have done nothing more than reaffirm
my passion and commitment to this outstanding institution.

I am pleased that we reached an agreement with the protesters and I’m
grateful to the Students’ Union Co-President Nizam Uddin for
facilitating discussions with the group in such an exemplary fashion.

Professor Paul Webley
Director & Principal

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