Supporting Refugees into Further and Higher Study
The University of Sunderland, UK, has recently undertaken a Pathfinder project, funded by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics. This project has supported refugees and asylum seekers into work and study. The University has strong links with refugee communities in the City and is working with the North of England Refugee Service, The Washington Asylum Seekers Project (WASP), and Refugees into Sustainable Employment (RISE). The University already has a considerable number of refugee students, however, to date there has not been any form of coordinated service available to support students. The project has provided a co-ordinated support service for refugees within the University of Sunderland and the City, by establishing the post of Refugee Support Officer, providing tailored support for refugee scholars. This post links with academic schools to provide opportunities for refugee scholars, with refugee groups within the City and Region. The Refugee Support Officer co-ordinates support and academic activities for refugee scholars within the City and Region. The Officer is housed within the area of the University Gateway, which is a one-stop-shop for University services. This enables the Officer to draw from relevant support services such as health and well-being, multi-faith chaplaincy, accommodation, disability support, equality and diversity, mental health advice, child support, financial hardship, human resources, library provision and career advice. The Officer acts as a point of contact for refugee scholars covering financial issues, health and well-being, accommodation and child-care, access to relevant courses and career advice, including CV preparation. The model of a one-stop-shop approach which focuses and co-ordinates support and academic linkages for refugee scholars should be replicable in other University settings. This paper reviews the considerable progress made on the project, discussing the specific issues addressed and the outcomes for those refugees who have been assisted.
Keywords: Refugees, Higher Education, Asylum Seekers
Prof. Peter Smith
Professor, Human Resources, University of Sunderland
Equality and Diversity Manager, Human Resources, University of Sunderland