Nigerian academic forced to quit PhD studies over 'hypocritical' visa … – Irish Examiner

Ola Abagun secured funding in 2021 through a highly competitive process to create a social media literacy programme for teenage girls, but will now
An academic has been forced to withdraw from her fully-funded PhD studies here after she was asked to show €107,000 in funds to secure family visas or face leaving her young daughter for four years.
Ola Abagun deregistered from her studies at the South East Technological University (SETU) this week following an “endless” appeals process in a bid to secure an Irish visa for her husband and young daughter in Nigeria.
While she secured a student visa to carry out her funded PhD, her husband’s and infant daughter’s applications were rejected on the grounds of inadequate finances under the non-EEA family reunification policy.

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“I was put in that position simply because of my identity, simply because of where I come from and the fact that I am not an EU citizen,” said Ms Abagun. 
“The irony is that my scholarship was actually funded by the Irish Government [through the] Higher Education Authority.” 
‘Tedious process’
Ms Abagun secured funding in 2021 through a highly competitive process to create a social media literacy programme for teenage girls in South East Ireland. The research came with full funding, including school fees, a stipend of €64,000 over the course of four years, and other allowances. 
She initiated the visa process for her family in Nigeria in 2021. Due to Covid, Ms Abagun started her programme online that August, and the family planned to come to Ireland in December 2021. 
“It was a really tedious process,” she said. 
We didn’t mind, we felt like if that’s the process, we’d go through it.”  
However, by November 2021, only Ms Abagun’s study visa had been approved. Under the Non-EEA family reunification policy, Ms Abagun was asked to demonstrate she would have a net income per week of €511 for each week spent in Ireland — roughly €107,000 per year.
She said: “How can you ask a grad student to demonstrate evidence of having €107,000? Everybody knows that kind of income is not PhD student income, so why am I being asked to show that simply because of the non-EEA family reunification?” 
The family initiated an appeal in 2021, but have not received any substantive updates. 
“Last week, I told my supervisors that I was so sorry, thank you, but the way things have gone, I can no longer wait endlessly for a visa,” she said.
“I don’t have the motivation to carry on with any PhD programme. Maybe in a few years I will have fresh motivation, but now it’s not happening because of this process.
We can’t keep throwing buzzwords around; equality, diversity, inclusion, EDI, and then have policies that do this in the same day. It’s hypocritical.”
The Department of Justice said it does not comment on individual cases.
A spokeswoman said in general that the application process for PhD programmes is managed by EURAXESS Ireland, which processes hosting arrangements for researchers. 
“Where a person is successful with their hosting agreement application, they and their family members are granted a visa and immigration permission on arrival in the State,” she said.

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