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University launches scholarship scheme for Reading refugees

Refugee Scholarship Scheme

The University of Reading is delighted to launch the Refugee Scholarship Scheme, a brand new scholarship scheme developed in partnership with Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) and Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU).

The scheme will provide up to 14 university scholarships for refugees in the Reading area. These 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 our Whiteknights campus, attend a lecture and find out more about how to apply for the new scholarships.

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, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning and Resource, 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.” 

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 Alnajjab, 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 [Monday 18 – Sunday 24 June] and a University webpage will be set up shortly to provide full details and a University webpage will be set up shortly to provide full details.”

Current work supporting refugees

The University already supports academic refugees around the world through our 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.

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. Our International Study and Language Institute (ISLI) has helped to develop and deliver an English for Academic Purposes programme for scholars who have escaped to safety in Turkey.

In 2017, we 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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