Over one thousand members of staff, students, and alumni from the University of Bath have signed an open letter to the Vice Chancellor of the University calling for scholarships for refugees accessing Higher Education.
The campaign looks to follow the example set by Warwick, LSE, Sheffield, and York – among others – in establishing financial support to cover the cost of tuition fees for refugees. As refugees are classed within the international students bracket, the fees they pay are significantly higher than the £9000 paid by UK and EU students, in addition they are not eligible to receive any financial support from Student Finance.
The signed letter requests that 10 scholarships and bursaries be set up to allow asylum seekers to access education in the next academic year, and to provide financial support to students with refugee status who have had to abandon their studies in their home country. Additional demands include advertising and promoting that the University welcomes refugees; engaging in a wider discussion about what else can be done around this issue; partnering with the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics; and linking the scheme to the Helena Kennedy Foundation, which promotes access to higher education for asylum seekers in the UK.
After listing 28 initial signatories the petition was widely publicised across the university campus and at the time of writing has received 1089 declarations of support from members of the university community who “believe that education is a human right that should be accessible to all”. Campaigners stood on campus asking passing fellow students to support the campaign and a large social media push took place to raise awareness of the cause and generate as much momentum as possible. The letter will now be presented to the Vice Chancellor at the meeting of University Senate on the 2nd December, in order to take the cause further.
The campaign is supported by Bath SU, UCU, Unite, Unison, Bath University Amnesty Society and Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts.
If you want to get behind this initiative the petition is still open for signatures at: http://bath.web.ucu.org.uk/2015/09/24/call-for-bath-to-offer-scholarships-to-refugees/
If you want to take things one step further, join other signatories to present the letter on Wednesday at 13h45 outside Wessex House – Restaurant Level2: https://www.facebook.com/events/1078019642208636/1078062118871055/