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University launches scholarship scheme for Reading refugees – University of Reading

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University launches scholarship scheme for Reading refugees

Release Date 19 June 2018

Two attendees to the Refugee open day with Pro-Vice Chancellor Robert Van De Noort, RUSU Diversity Officer Leen Al Najjab and Diversity Dean Prof Ellie Highwood

Reading’s refugee community is to benefit from a new scholarship scheme launched by the University of Reading.

The Refugee Scholarship Scheme has been developed in partnership with Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) and Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU), and will provide up to 14 university scholarships for refugees in the Reading area.

UPDATE: The University has now launched a donations page to accommodate offers of financial support for the refugee scholarships scheme, following an overwhelming response on social media.
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The scholarships will include:

  • up to five scholarships covering tuition fees for pre-sessional English 11-week programmes
  • up to two each for Foundation, Undergraduate and Post-Graduate Taught study that make up the difference between the already available financial support through the Student Finance Authorities (SFA) and what the University advises students as the reasonable cost of studying in Reading
  • one each for Foundation, Undergraduate and Post-Graduate Taught study covering the full tuition and maintenance costs for refugee students who were not eligible for funding through the SFA.

On Saturday 16 June, the University and RUSU hosted the first ever Refugee Scholars Open Day alongside the main undergraduate Open Day. It provided prospective refugee students with an opportunity to experience the Whiteknights campus, attend a lecture and find out more about how to apply for a scholarship at the University.

Refugees based in the local area will have a bespoke application form and RRSG will be supporting applicants throughout the process.

Professor Robert Van de Noort said:

“Universities are places for people from all over the world and from all walks of life. We welcome to Reading those fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries and we value the contribution those seeking sanctuary can make to the University and the town in general.

“The launch of these scholarships is another practical step the University has taken to welcome and integrate all people into our communities, our activities and our culture. We are proud and unapologetic to offer these scholarships, joining with institutions around the country offering support for refugees to access education, which is a welcome addition to our existing range of scholarships available for a variety of students.”

Gaby Couchman, Deputy Manager at Reading Refugee Support Group, said: "We work with a number of refugees in Reading who have a strong desire to engage with higher education in the UK. These are often young and highly educated people who have had their studies interrupted due to conflict and persecution in their home country. The launch of the Reading Scholarship Scheme is a powerful tool to enable refugees to help rebuild their lives in the UK. We look forward to supporting our clients into higher education and beyond.”

Leen Al Najjab, Diversity Officer for RUSU, said: “No matter who you are or where you are from, education should be an opportunity available to you. I am incredibly proud to be part of an institution and community that is breaking down barriers by providing an education to those fleeing war and persecution.

“We enjoyed welcoming 50 refugees to our first ever Refugee Open Day this weekend, raising awareness of the Scholarship Scheme and how to apply. RUSU will also be raising further awareness of the Scheme throughout Refugee Week [18th – 24th June] and a University webpage will be set up shortly to provide full details.”

The University of Reading already supports academic refugees around the world through its work with the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara), a charity that helps scholars to escape from places of conflict and danger to temporary safe environments where they can continue important academic careers.

Since partnering with Cara, Reading has welcomed scholars who have been forced to leave their country and provided them with the opportunity to continue their academic development and build networks within the academic community. Two scholars have been placed at Reading, and are now studying for postgraduate degrees in the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy.

In parallel to supporting at-risk scholars to come to Reading, the University is also one of 11 institutions that has partnered with Cara on its Syria Programme, which aims to preserve and then strengthen Syria's intellectual capital. The International Study and Language Institute (ISLI), part of the University, has helped to develop and deliver an English for Academic Purposes programme for scholars who have escaped to safety in Turkey.

In 2017, the University supported Reading’s bid to become a City of Sanctuary. The aim of the initiative is to bring together people, organisations and businesses in order to build a culture of hospitality and welcome throughout Reading for people seeking sanctuary.

The University and RUSU are also part of Student Action for Refugees (STAR), a national charity of 26,000 students welcoming refugees to the UK. This includes volunteering at local refugee projects; campaigning to improve the lives of refugees; educating people about refugees and asylum and fundraising to welcome refugees to the UK.

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