Introduce Scholarship Schemes for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

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I. Background

This call for scholarship schemes for asylum seekers and refugees is the collective response of the Lancaster University community of students and staff to the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with 68.5 million forcibly displaced people, millions of whom were students (UHCR).

Asylum seekers and those who have been granted humanitarian protection in Britain do not have the same access to higher education as home students, despite having the right to study. Many are forced to abandon their education as they are ineligible for student loans and grants and must pay international fees. Most asylum seekers are denied the right to work and cannot afford up to £30,000 a year in university fees.

In a world where nearly one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution (UHCR), we strongly urge Lancaster University, as a ‘globally significant university’ and a ‘leader in higher education’ (LU Vision & Strategy), to join the 63 universities in the UK who offer scholarships and bursaries to asylum seekers and refugees. As a global university, Lancaster University has an institutional responsibility to address this ongoing crisis by setting up scholarship schemes for students affected by this crisis and establishing itself as a refugee-friendly university. Lancaster University can and must establish itself as a leader in equal access and provision of higher education for forced migrants.

Making provisions to forced migrants is a social and intellectual investment. The experiences and insights of students seeking refugee protection have the potential to greatly enrich the intellectual and social life of the University and the city of Lancaster and foster a deeper understanding of forced migration.

II. Our Proposal

Drawing on scholarship provisions in over 60 universities around the country, field research with local community organisations who worked to make Lancaster a City of Sanctuary, and the expertise of our academic staff, the Lancaster University Refugee Scholarship Campaign makes the following proposal for the development of initiatives aimed at supporting refugee and asylum-seeking students. The initiatives have already received significant support from staff and students across the University. Our proposal is in line with Lancaster University’s global engagement strategy, to make an impact on global challenges through engaging ‘locally and internationally on the issues and debates of the day and future’, as well as the University’s commitment to widening access and participation more broadly. The Lancaster University Refugee Scholarship Campaign proposes that Lancaster University:

1– offer at least 8 scholarships to cover study and maintenance costs for asylum seekers and refugees by the academic year 2020/2021 (for details, read the full-length proposal).

2– adopt a framework of alternative assessment to be followed by Student Admissions for the application process.

3– classify asylum-seeking applicants as home students in terms of tuition fees.

4– establish an interdisciplinary Refugee Studies and Forced Migration Research Centre at Lancaster University to create a more visible platform for the wealth of research by a number of our academic staff and researchers in different departments around the topic of forced displacement and migration.

For our full proposal, see: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sQSLCWPc33SwBMGOscsj-6uJVsCYgdfkHQ6EOfeRxm4/edit?usp=sharing

III. Call for Action

We urge Lancaster University to open its doors to asylum seekers and refugees. We call on everyone to play their part in supporting people who have fled war and persecution to find safety and rebuild their shattered lives. We, the undersigned, call on Lancaster University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mark E. Smith, to enact the proposal of the Lancaster University Refugee Scholarship Campaign.

 

 

Students of the Lancaster University Refugee Scholarship Campaign