To the Vice Chancellors of UK Universities,
A Call on UK Universities to provide Scholarships and Bursaries for Students and Academics seeking Refuge
We are writing to you in the context of the current refugee and migrant crisis that confronts Europe. We are aware of the excellent work done by some universities in collaboration with third sector organisations such as Article 26, STAR (Student Action for Refugees), CARA (Council for At-Risk Academics), and the Refugee Support Network among others. However, we believe that the time is right for a sector-wide response and a public commitment.
Europe is faced with a challenge to its human values and whether it will meet its obligations in the face of suffering.
As you will be aware, many of those fleeing violence and war are young people whose education has been disrupted and as well as seeking freedom from persecution are also wishing to rebuild their lives through education. Article 26 of the UDHR sets out the right to education. It specifies that ‘higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit’. Yet, those who have been forced to flee face difficulty in accessing education because they do not have access to loans or employment to support them in pursuing it.
Academics also need support. Many of those now being forced to flee say that they want to return home, when circumstance allows, to help re-build their societies and higher education systems. Many UK universities are already helping; but the scale of the problem means that universities need now to go further.
1) that each university in the UK set up at least 5 scholarships and bursaries at undergraduate, postgraduate and post-doctoral levels for those fleeing from violence and conflict, to be available from this academic year.
2) that these scholarships and bursaries be attached to the initiatives established by CARA and Article 26.
We also request:
3) that each university in the UK should advertise and promote a welcome to those who have been forced to flee violence, war and persecution.
4) that each university in the UK makes and / or maintains active links with CARA and sets up a working group of academics to support at-risk academics in their local communities.
5) that each university seeks to support those with qualifications seeking recognition or enhancement of those qualifications.
This call is supported by Citizens UK and the Campaign for the Public University.