Just days after an Indian student’s body was pulled out of a canal in the United Kingdom, his alma mater Aston University has assured support to his friends, family, and the international student community at the institute.
“We have been deeply saddened to hear about the death of one of our students. Our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends at this difficult time. Jheevanth was a valued member of Aston University and we know his loss is being felt by many. We are doing everything we can to support his family, friends, and the wider student and staff community,” said Alison Levey, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students), Aston University.
What happened to Jheevanth Sivakumar?
Jheevanth Sivakumar, who was originally from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, was found in the Worcester and Birmingham canal at Matrons Walk, Selly Oak, by West Midlands Police in the wee hours of Wednesday, June 21, according to a statement by the city police on Monday.
The West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to the spot of the incident but they later said in a statement that "it sadly became apparent nothing could be done to save the man”.
Jheevanth went to the UK in September 2022
The 25-year-old was pursuing a one-year full-time Strategy and International Business at Aston Business School. He came to the UK in September 2022 and pursued a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Electrical, Electronics, and Communication Engineering from Sri Krishna College of Engineering and Technology in Coimbatore in 2015.
Though various media reports suggest that Sivakumar’s family members are alleging foul play in his death, his college mates The Free Press Journal spoke to claim that the ‘student had a phobia of water.’
Moreover, the West Midlands Police is no longer looking at the incident as a police matter as it is ‘not suspicious.’
“His death will be referred to the coroner in due course,” said a statement by the West Midlands authorities.
Aston University to help family with repatriation of body
When asked about the measures being taken by Aston University to help the parents and family members of Sivakumar, Levey told The FPJ that it is fully committed to assisting with the repatriation of the student’s body.
“We continue to maintain regular dialogue with his immediate family through a variety of channels. We would also like to reaffirm our commitment to facilitate full repatriation to his family when permitted to do so, in line with guidance from HM Coroner and in liaison with the Consulate General of India,” stated Levey, who added that the institute will continue to cooperate with UK authorities.
UK association for Indian students expresses grief
The Indian National Students Association (INSA), which was founded in 2016 to be a ‘home away from home’ for Indians studying in the UK, is also coordinating with authorities to help with the safe arrival of Sivakumar’s mortal remains in India.
"As the INSA team, we are deeply saddened to announce the tragic and unexpected loss of our dear, Jeevanth Sivakumar. We come together with heavy hearts to honour and commemorate the beautiful life he lived," INSA UK said in an official statement.
"INSA is dedicated to providing every possible assistance to make sure his body reaches home safely. Let us remember Jheevanth Sivakumar with love, compassion, and gratitude. Together, we will honour his legacy and find strength in the bonds we share as a community," it said.
Sivakumar's death raises alarm bell on safety of Indian students
The Coimbatore native’s passing has grabbed headlines just days after a 27-year-old Hyderabad student was allegedly stabbed to death by a Brazilian national in Wembley, North London on June 13, while an Indian-origin girl Grace O’Malley Kumar, 19-year-old was also stabbed on the same day in a separate incident in Nottingham.
Keeping in mind the safety concerns that Indian and international students might have in light of such instances, Aston University also highlighted the range of services they have which cater to them.
“We encourage any student at the University to engage with our Student Welfare teams – including Counselling, Chaplaincy, and Mental Health & well-being – all of whom remain ready and available to offer support and guidance alongside other services. Our experienced Student Advice teams also continue to remain available to support our wider international student community,” asserted Levey.