IT is hard to imagine the relief that must have been felt by Daniela Tejada, wife of Durham University academic Matthew Hedges after it was announced he had been pardoned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he had been convicted of spying and jailed for life.

UAE officials insisted Mr Hedges was “100 per cent a full-time secret service operative” who was in the country “to steal the UAE’s sensitive security national secrets for his paymasters”.

Today that claim will surely matter very little to Ms Tejada, and Mr Hedges’ family and friends as they look forward to getting him home and helping him to recover from his ordeal.

While his welfare must be the first priority, it is right that the University and College Union has called for an urgent review by universities of their overseas operations in the wake of this spy row, taking in human rights, trade union representation and academic freedom, among other issues.

Universities UK say there are more than 700,000 students studying outside the UK for qualifications awarded by 138 UK universities.

While Mr Hedges’ case is extreme, the personal safety of those studying at home and abroad must be the absolute priority of any academic institution.

We agree that such a review is necessary, and should be carried out as a matter of priority to ensure no other student and their family, finds themselves in the type of grave situation as that faced by Mr Hedges.