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A ‘Genius’ Raised in a Zimbabwean Orphanage Is Saved From Deportation and Will Go to Oxford University

Flickr/Alison Day

A straight-A* student will be allowed to stay in the UK, after a campaign to stop him being deported garnered massive support online.

The petition to keep Brian White in the country, and allow him to take up his place at the University of Oxford, received more than 110,000 signatures after it went viral last week.

And White has finally been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, where he has lived since he was 15. 

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“We have just received news that Brian’s application has been approved!!” White’s schoolfriend who set up the petition, Luke Wilcox, wrote online on Monday. “Thank you so much for all of the support. Every single one of you has helped to change Brian’s life forever!”

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

He was then adopted by British man, Peter White, and his Zimbabwean wife. The family moved to Botswana before deciding to return to the UK, when White was a teenager. 

But White was, unusually, 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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Wilcox set up the petition urging the Home Office to grant him leave to stay, describing White, who achieved four A*s at A-level, 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 #GetBrianToOxford campaign gathered momentum after famous names including comedian Frankie Boyle, and celebrity writers Philip Pullman and Caitlin Moran, got on board.

‘At the moment, we would like to enjoy some personal time,” said Wilcox in a statement. “But we would like to thank all those that supported the campaign and signed the petition, and we are grateful to them for helping change Brian’s life.” 

The University of Oxford told the BBC that White is a “brilliant student” and confirmed his place to study chemistry would be available to take up.