Heather Mayer, a US national, was elected President at Hilary Sports Council. But she cannot take the year-long job as she has been refused a work visa.
In an email to the Sports Federation, the serving President Hannah McKay told members, “Unfortunately, in the past six months visa regulations have changed in the UK which affected Heather as a U.S. national.
“Despite the efforts of the University Visa and Immigration Department, Heather has not been able to fulfil the requirements to obtain a visa to stay in the UK to work for the Sports Department beyond October 2013.”
Mayer, a St Hilda’s undergraduate, discovered she was being refused a visa a week after elections due to changes which make the application process more stringent.
The new laws were introduced last year as part of the government’s effort to bring immigration down to “the tens of thousands” by 2015. However critics of the scheme have accused the government of “undermining” the higher education system.
Mayer told Cherwell, “I am extraordinarily frustrated by the new laws. It seems they were enacted as an easy way to score political points without considering whom they actually affect…I think most people don’t realize that laws like these affect a lot of people whom they would probably like to have in the country.”
She continued, “Furthermore, it’s frustrating how close I was to the changes. Had this been last year, I’d be applying for a post-study work visa and there would be no problems whatsoever. But times have changed, and I can’t do anything about it.”
The OUSF President will now be Madeleine Sava, who came second in the election under the Single Transferable Vote system. The role involves managing OUSF, the organisation which funds and encourages university sport.
In an email to members, OUSF stated it will propose amendments in Trinity Term “to reflect these changes in immigration law and to avoid a similar situation for candidates in future.”
A spokesperson for Oxford University Sports Federation told Cherwell that “it is a shame the first choice candidate could not take up the role.”
However the federation insisted that “Madeleine was the next preference of voters and is a very good candidate and will do a fine job. We are going to clarify in our election procedures who is eligible to run for the post in consultation with the university work permit desk.”
DEBATE: Should Heather Mayer have been refused a visa? Sean Ford and Joe Miles make the case for both sides of the debate.