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A ‘Genius’ Raised in a Zimbabwe Orphanage May Be Deported and Lose His Place at Oxford University

Flickr/Alison Day

It’s an inspiring story. 

Abandoned as a baby in Zimbabwe, Brian White was raised in an orphanage in the country until the age of 6. 

Now, aged 21, he has achieved four A* A-levels and has a place waiting for him at Oxford University, one of the best universities in the world. 

But despite already overcoming so many obstacles, this could all still be snatched away from him.

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White faces being deported from Britain and, with his deportation, faces losing his place to study chemistry at the top university.

As a child, White was adopted from the Zimbabwean orphanage by British man, Peter White, and his Zimbabwean wife. The family moved to Botswana before deciding to move to Wolverhampton, in the UK, when White was 15. 

But White was not granted Indefinite Leave to Remain by the Home Office when he first moved to the UK, and his application to become a British citizen by naturalisation was rejected in 2014. His family appealed, but that was, again, rejected. 

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White’s lawyer, Louis MacWilliam, said: “On reviewing his papers it seems he should have been granted indefinite leave to enter at first instance, and it is not clear why this did not happen.”

The star student is now awaiting the decision of another application, submitted in April, but the clock is ticking as his place at Oxford is set to expire. He has already had to delay his university place for a year after, in 2016, he was considered ineligible to receive student finance. 

“I don’t feel like there is much I can do except wait, which is not the best of things to do,” White told the BBC

“I just want to be there, go to university and be a normal person, rather than sit around and wait to see if I can stay here or get deported.”

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A petition to keep White in the UK has gained huge momentum, gathering more than 80,000 signatures — 75,000 of these in the past five days. 

White’s school friend Luke Wilcox launched the petition, which describes White as a “fitting and valued member” of British society. 

“He is possibly the hardest working person I have ever met, but it is his enthusiasm to help those around him that I am inspired by each and every day,” writes Wilcox on the petition.

“If Brian is not granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, the United Kingdom would not only be losing a potentially valuable future worker, it would also be losing a fantastic person who is just as much as part of British culture and society as you and I.” 

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The campaign — which has also taken off on social media with #GetBrianToOxford — has the backing of famous names including comedian Frankie Boyle, and authors Philip Pullman and Caitlin Moran, who tweeted that White is a “genius.”

Following the public support for the petition, a spokesman for the Home Office said that it has become aware of the “urgency” of the case and is “looking to resolve his application as soon as possible.”