18 November 2017   |  Last Updated 19-12-2014 11:07

      Asylum-seekers petition for equal chance to university

      Young RAPAR members in Manchester have created a petition called “Breaking Education Barriers” in order to encourage student loan companies to extend their scope to asylum seekers.

       

      Asylum seekers are entitled to go to university in the UK if they meet the course entrance requirements and can pay the tuition fees.

       

      Those who have not yet received a decision about their status from the Home Office are classed as overseas students and have to pay tuition fees of £8,500 to £29,000 a year.

       

      In some universities asylum seekers are charged with the home rate if they have a proof that an application for asylum in the UK has been made.

      But even home fees are impossible for asylum-seeking students as they are not eligible to receive Student Finance England funding. Moreover, they are denied the right to work in the UK and have to live on government hand-outs of around £36 a week.


      Farid Uahidi, 25, Treasurer at RAPAR, left Iran seven years ago. He came to Manchester with a Level 3 Diploma in Computer Networking and was looking forward to his admission to university.

      He was devastated to find out that because of his asylum-seeking status there was no place for him in higher education in the UK.

      He said: “Of course, I’ve been tempted to just apply for university, start going and just keep saying that my loan company process is still going through, just going to my lectures.But that’s not the right thing to do, that’s not the way it should be.

      “It should be straightforward for everyone. And if somebody wants to choose to take that path and go to higher education - they should have the right to do so.”

       



      Manchester-based scheme Article 26 lobbies universities to waive fees for a few students and offers them financial support while they are studying. It is part of the Helena Kennedy Foundation and refers to Article 26 of the Universal Decalaration of Human Rights that education should be available to all on equal basis.

      Nick Sagovsky, Trustee at Helena Kennedy Foundation, said:“ What we have in this country is a system where people are often admissioned on a basis of merit, but they can only take up their place if they can fund it.

      "And we are seeing young people coming from asylum-seeking roots who are effectively barred from higher education because they can’t fund it. We are trying to find out way to overcome that barrier for these fabuluous young people."

      After being approached by the organization, the University of Salford offered full tuition fee bursaries to three students a year, while the University of Manchester extended an existing support scheme which caps asylum seeker fees to home student rates, to also provide one bursary.

      Spokesperson from the University of Salford said: "The university is keen to be involved in this scheme as a means to facilitate access to higher education for asylum seekers.

      "It is also keen to support access for other groups traditionally under-represented within higher education, including young people who have been in care, and we find that many asylum seekers are also care leavers."

      by Stanislava Antova
      @StanislavaAntov

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