FROM DEPORTATION THREAT TO MAJOR UNIVERSITY SUCCESS
A BANGOR engineering student who won an 11th-hour reprieve from deportation in February will graduate with a first class degree next week.
Shiromini Satkunarajah, 20, passed her degree in Electronic Engineering with flying colours, despite being detained pending deportation with her mother, Roshina, in February this year.
Police in Bangor arrested her and her mother as they made a routine, fortnightly sign-on in February and they were kept in separate cells for two nights before being transferred to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre in Bedfordshire.
A petition calling for their release to allow Shiromini to finish her degree, which had just three months to run, garnered more than 30,000 signatures and local Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams raised the issue in Parliament and with Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
A campaign organisation, Unis Resist Border Controls, secured the services of a top immigration lawyer before the women were sensationally released hours before deportation.
Now, after immersing herself in her BEng Hons degree, the “model student” is on the verge of picking up a qualification some thought she may never finish.
She said: “I’d like to say a big thank-you to everyone who’s supported me over the past few months.
“It has been a challenging time, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages of goodwill I’ve received, both from the local community in and around Bangor and from further afield.
“I’m so pleased to have been able to successfully complete my Electronic Engineering Degree at Bangor University and attain a first in the subject.
“I’m now focused on enjoying my graduation ceremony, which takes place next week, and I look forward to applying the skills and knowledge I’ve gained through my course at Bangor to the jobs market.”
Shiromini and her mother came to the UK in 2009, fleeing war-torn Sri Lanka to live with father Satkunarajah Aiyampillai, who was here on a study visa.
Before he died from bowel cancer surgery complications in 2011, Mr Aiyampillai applied for a visa extension but that application passed with him.
A series of applications to finish her studies came and went until Shiromini and her mother were arrested this year.
MP Hywel Williams said: “I’m extremely pleased to hear of Shiromini’s success and her fantastic result. Despite the challenges she faced earlier this year, her resolve and commitment to her studies has paid off.
“I hope this will bring an end to the residency battle both Shiromini and her mother have been fighting for the last few months but my team and I will continue to support her in any way we can.”
Shiromini Satkunarajah with Arfon MP Hywel Williams, who fought her corner whilst she and her mother faced being thrown out of the country. She has now gained a First Class degree from Bangor in Electronic Engineering