A Palestinian scholarship student may have his offer to study at Goldsmiths university on a Tier 4 UK student visa withdrawn thanks to exit visa delays from the Israeli government.
Mohammed Awad had accepted a full scholarship to study an MA in Multilingualism, Linguistics, & Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, starting on October 1.
But delays by Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat), the Israeli body which oversees the government of occupied Palestine, means that the 28 year old is still stuck in Gaza without an exit visa, just days before term starts.
Tier 4 and Tier 2 UK visas
Mr. Awad is hoping to enter the UK on a Tier 4 student visa – a popular choice for international students. Other UK visas for workers are also incredibly popular, such as the Tier 2 visa, which allows skilled workers to take up employment with a UK employer who holds a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship License, and eventually gain legal permanent residence.
Tier 4 entry window closing
Mr Awad's Tier 4 student visa stipulates that he must enter the UK by October 13. However, he is unlikely to be allowed to leave Gaza before October 24, reports the Independent.
“I worked hard for such an opportunity. It took one year of dedicated focus, attention and interest... I bought my suitcase and packed my luggage,” said Mr Awad.
The cost to extend his Tier 4 entry period is £967, a sum which the student says he does not have.
“My family cannot afford to finance my master’s degree because my father was a worker in Israel and since the closure of border, he’s unemployed most of the time. I have a big family, I have four brothers and four sisters. They work to support for my family and survive instead,” he said.
Additionally, if Mr Awad cannot enter the UK by November 1 Goldsmiths will have to cancel is spot on the course.
Hundreds of Palestinian students denied exit visas
Mr Awad is one of hundreds of Palestinian students refused exit visas to study abroad. According to Israeli NGO Gisha 362 Gazan students have applied for exist visas since January, with only 73 being granted permission.
“The result of the strict travel restrictions Israel imposes on Gaza residents is that many times approvals of exits, if received at all, are provided late, after the applicants' visas expired, or after the academic year has already begun.There are no guarantees a student from Gaza will be able to reach his/her destination on time, or even at all,” said Gisha spokesperson Shai Grunberg
MPs urged to intervene in visa case
In a letter to MPs, cross party consultant on Israel and Palestine Gary Spedding urged the government to intervene in Mr Awad's case.
“Despite being one of the most horrific places on earth in terms of humanitarian crisis at present, there is an impressive level of education in Gaza which is something that can definitely be harnessed in a future push for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. For people like Mohammed, this kind of educational opportunity is a chance in a lifetime,” the letter reads.
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