Last year scholarships for refugee students were introduced at the University for the first time. Two postgraduate places were offered on a Sanctuary Scholarship scheme and one undergraduate place was ring-fenced on the pre-existing gold scholarship scheme. This was a huge achievement and was a result of a two-year campaign involving the collaboration of dedicated students and staff. Over 1,000 people signed a petition in support of the scheme, over £6,500 was raised in a crowd-fund and the campaign was officially supported by trade unions such as Unison and UCU.
However, this campaign cannot be forgotten. Now is the time to make sure that the existing scheme improves and is sufficient in providing support for both refugee and asylum seeker students. This is why members of the Amnesty Society have put forward an SU policy to make sure that the University continues to evaluate and improve its support to displaced people at the University of Bath. First, the scheme for undergraduates needs to provide better support to asylum seekers, those with discretionary and limited leave to remain and to those who have humanitarian protection or refugee status but have not been here for 3 years. These categories do not have access to student finance and as such face significant difficulties in paying tuition fees and covering living costs. Secondly, the SU should play a greater role in lobbying for the improvement of the scheme. Currently the workload falls on the Amnesty society, which is run by volunteers and changes annually in its membership. By the SU playing a greater role it will share the workload,ensure that the scheme is discussed regularly, and that momentum doesn’t falter. This will involve the SU assigning the scheme to an SU officer, who will then review the scheme monthly with societies and staff unions. They will then take this feedback and discuss the scheme monthly alongside a staff union representative and an amnesty society reprsentative with the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching who is currently Peter Lambert. Thirdly, we are asking the SU to promote the scheme and host events on campus for refugee supports groups and organisations that actively promote displaced people’s access to university, such as the Helena Kennedy Foundation. This promotion is pivotal to maximising the reach and success of the scheme and will ensure as many refugees as possible are aware of the support available at the University of Bath.
We hope that you agree that the evaluation and improvement of our refugee scholarship scheme is extremely important in light of the on-going humanitarian crisis. The refugee crisis continues to affect millions of people globally with over 22 million currently classed as refugees according the UNHCR. In this context the University must do all it can to support refugees and model a community that is welcoming to displaced people.
We would very much welcome and appreciate feedback on our policy, which is currently open for student comments via Bathstudent until Monday 19th March at 12. Students may also attend a debate on our policy on Tuesday 20th March in CB 3.1 at 12:15.. To ensure support for displaced students at our university, please vote in support of our policy when polls open on the 20th March!