Diwa came to the UK from Afghanistan when she was 16. “My teachers were very nice and kind to me,” she recalls, “but the teaching style is very different here. Other people and students were not very kind to me.”
The Refugee Education charity gave Diwa a mentor. “Her name is Laura. She helps me a lot to improve my reading, writing and speaking, even though she helps me mainly with maths and IT. She is a very nice and kind person. Now everything is OK. I’m doing GCSE maths with people who are from the UK. I feel more confident, and I have so many friends.”
Salma is an Afghan refugee who is currently studying biomedical science at Brunel University. Her journey to higher education has been fraught and filled with challenges.
“Since living in the UK, I have attended three different schools and colleges, and have lived in five different places,” she says. “The first three years of my life in London were like a nightmare, everywhere I faced a lot of struggles such as financial difficulties, no social life and problems finding help in our asylum case.”
Fortunately, Salma received support from a Refugee Education mentor with her studies and her UCAS application. Ultimately, she gained a scholarship from Brunel to fund her course. https:// reuk.org
Brunel is one of more than 70 City of Sanctuary Universities, offering scholarships, bursaries and fee waivers for people who have claimed asylum in the UK. https://universities.cityof sanctuary.org
Winchester University, for instance, has offered seven new Sanctuary scholarships for the current academic year, to support Ukrainian students living locally. They have each received £1000 cash, a fee-waiver and free access to pre-sessional courses. Another new Sanctuary scholarship has been awarded to an asylum seeker living locally, comprising a fee-waiver and a £5000 cash award. These awards are running alongside 13 continuing Sanctuary scholarships. The university has also established a new CARA (Council for at Risk Academic) Fellowship.
The STAR network, Student Action for Refugees, https://star-network.org.uk, also supports refugees and asylum seekers in higher education. They have produced a useful information pack, ‘Higher Education for young migrants and refugees in the UK.’