Six asylum seekers will be offered scholarships to study at Goldsmiths, University of London in response to the on-going migrant crisis.
The New Cross university announced six scholarships worth £140,000 will be made available to students from the Middle East, Europe, and Africa who are classified as asylum seekers or waiting on a decision on their asylum application.
Patrick Loughrey, warden of Goldsmiths, said: “We have never seen events like those which unfolded over the summer.
“Those images and stories compelled us to act – we simply could not stand by and do nothing.
“Goldsmiths is in a position of real privilege to be able to help, initially with these scholarships but also by developing an on-going academic response to this terrible crisis.”
The scholarships will cover both tuition and accommodation fees.
Students will also receive maintenance bursaries of up to £10,000 a year.
Areej Zayat, a Syrian MA television journalism student, told EastLondonLines: “For young people, education is probably their only weapon to win their lives back and build their new future.”
Zayat came to Goldsmiths through a Chevening scholarship, a UK Government international reward scheme, and explained it would take a Syrian 30 years of non-stop work to cover the almost $50,000 in expenses it will cost to complete her course.
“This is because of the economic impact the war has had on the Syrian pound, which lost a lot of its purchasing power,” she added.
The new scholarships will be offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate level from each of Goldsmiths’ academic schools: Culture and Society, Arts and Humanities, and Professional Studies, Science, and Technology.
Lisa Doyle, head of advocacy at UK charity Refugee Council, said: “Sadly, at the moment many asylum seekers are prevented from accessing university due to prohibitive rules and fees.
“It’s extremely welcome that Goldsmiths has stepped forward to give asylum seekers hope of a better future by enabling them to access university.”
Under this scheme, Goldsmiths Students’ Union (GSU) will be working closely with the Students, Alumni and Library Services (SALS) to provide support and services for new students.
This will include English language classes and trauma relief.
Speaking to EastLondonLines, GSU’s education officer, Danny Nasr, said: “Education is the most sustainable resource and mechanism for social change.
“It is vital that students and community members don’t see this as a reactionary thing, and that we will continue to sustain support and response to this crisis”.
The university will also build on its existing links with the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), a British charity founded in 1933 aimed at helping research students in danger, and is one of 110 universities that is part of CARA Scholars at Risk UK Universities Network.
CARA offers financial support and travel visas for students at MA or PhD level after checking their applications, and has seen a spike in the number of applications in the past 18 months so is working with universities to support them in full fee waivers.
Stephen Wordsworth, CARA’s executive director, told EastLondonLines that he appreciates “the growing commitment of many universities to work with CARA by also providing generous support to those academics who have been forced to leave but nevertheless do not see themselves as permanent refugees and still hope to return home one day, when conditions allow, to help re-build safer, better societies.”
A number of British universities, including the University of East London, Warwick, Sussex and the School of Oriental and African Studies, stepped forward earlier this year to help refugees and announced scholarships for Syrians fleeing the conflict.