Students and staff at the University of Bath have surpassed their target to fund university scholarships for refugees in less than three months.
Senior managers and academics at the University of Bath will meet on Wednesday to decide the next steps to take.
Student members of Amnesty International Society and staff in the University and College Union (UCU) and UNISON started a crowdfund in January in response to the financial barriers that exclude refugees from access to university.
The fund is being supported by Bath Welcomes Refugees. An initial target of £5,000 was exceeded last week, reaching £6,300 after the ‘Jamnesty’ Refugees Welcome music event.
The campaign to welcome refugees to the University of Bath started in September 2015, when over 1,100 students and members of staff signed an open letter supporting the creation of scholarships for refugees who would otherwise be unable to start or complete their studies.
Bath Spa University and the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter are among over fifty across the country to already support refugees through full or partial scholarships. The need for scholarships has been demonstrated by the high number of quality applications made to existing scholarship schemes.
During the current academic year, the Students’ Union passed an official policy in active support of the campaign.
Adam Kearns, the Students’ Union Postgraduate Officer, said:
“In light of the current global refugee crisis and recent attacks on people seeking refuge in the UK, we actively oppose xenophobia and hate in our city and on our campus. In order to ensure this, refugees’ integration into our society through equality of opportunity is imperative. Refugees have been settled throughout the South West, which highlights the university’s responsibility as a regional actor.”
Christopher Roche, Branch Secretary of Bath University UNISON, highlighted that:
“The most prominent barriers hindering refugees from accessing higher education include extortionate international student fees and ineligibility to receive student loans. As a university, we have a responsibility to welcome refugees to our campus and financial assistance is an essential component of that.”
Alaa Al Khourdajie, a member of University of Bath UCU, said:
“This has been an inspiring campaign led by students and staff. I’m really excited to be a part of welcoming refugees to study here at Bath and looking forward to taking the next steps after Wednesday’s meeting.”
The campaign is inviting expressions of interest from donors and from other universities who may wish to work together to open access to Higher Education for refugees in the UK.