Over a million asylum seekers reached Europe in 2015 alone, many of them desperately fleeing war and persecution. People seeking refugee protection and those granted discretionary leave to remain (DLR) are classed as overseas students, which makes access to Higher Education impossible for many. Most people seeking refugee protection are not allowed to work, cannot take out a student loan and must live on state support of just £5 a day plus accommodation; therefore paying international student fees is well beyond their means. People who have been granted DLR are allowed to work, however they do not have access to loans. Many came to the UK unaccompanied as children and have grown up in care therefore they cannot rely on family support to pay their fees. Unlike other care leavers, they are now excluded from education at a crucial point in their lives.
As University of the Arts London students and staff, we believe that everyone should have equal access to arts education, regardless of nationality and life circumstances. We are calling our university to fund a number of scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers, covering tuition fees as well as a living allowance.
According to STAR (Student Action for Refugees), around 30 universities have already decided to offer scholarships for asylum seekers, including Goldsmiths, SOAS and Queen Mary. We would be proud if UAL joined the list.