When Allardyce Nicholl, then professor of English at Birmingham University, founded the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1951, he intended from the beginning that it should have an international flavor. When I was a student there in the late 50’s, there were always some international students in residence—Indians, Yugoslavs, a Greek, and a number of Americans. The Americans especially would come and go, and one or two of them seemed to be more or less permanently in England at the time. There was a constant stream of visiting scholars, too.
It never occurred to me to wonder about their status as visitors. None of them ever seemed to have any difficulty with the authorities, and we would have been very surprised if they had.
Jump over the intervening 50-odd years to 2016, and it seems that things have changed, and not for the better. The Institute is still welcoming overseas students, but the same cannot be said of the people in charge of comings and goings at the Home Office, when it comes to certain overseas students.
Paul Hamilton, a 42-year-old American student at the Shakespeare Institute, graduated this past July, having been in England as a student for going on nine years. This may seem like a long time, but Ph.D.’s can take that long. Besides, Mr. (now Dr.) Hamilton was enjoying himself living in England, studying Shakespeare...