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University scholarship for refugees and asylum seekers is renewed

Sanctuary Scholar Kamal Mohamed

Press release issued: 20 June 2017

A scholarship scheme for refugees and asylum seekers will run for a second year following a successful pilot, the University of Bristol has announced.

Introduced last year, the Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme offers support towards the cost of full or part-time undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Its aim is to enhance opportunities for people from asylum seeking and refugee communities, breaking down the additional barriers they face in accessing higher education and employment.

The pilot scheme received over 130 applications for 2016/17 entry and, after a thorough selection process, the University awarded scholarships to 10 students.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: "I'm delighted to see this scheme run for another year. I am sure we will again have applications from many excellent prospective students, and we look forward to welcoming them to study at our university.

"We know there are factors that make it difficult for people from refugee and asylum-seeking communities to apply to university. Their previous studies may have been interrupted, they might not have evidence of their previous qualifications or their qualifications are not transferable. Our scheme has been designed to accommodate these factors and encourage them to apply."

The scholarship was pushed forward by Ben Hudson, a PhD researcher in the University's Law School, and Law lecturer Katie Bales, who has carried out extensive research into asylum seekers' rights.

Kamal Mohamed, who is studying for a Master's in International Security, came to the UK as an asylum seeker six years ago, fleeing the fighting in Sudan.

He found that his qualifications weren't recognised by employers and he was only able to get low-skilled work.

Kamal, 30, said: "Adding an extra line to my CV, saying I have an MSc from Bristol, is a big boost. It's rare not to get a response from employers now. It's an amazing course. One of the most important things is that the department is full of top dog professors.

"I've been offered a PhD in the department now, which wouldn't have happened had I not been awarded a scholarship for my Masters.  It's amazing to look back and think how things have changed in the past year - I've gone from not being able to find work to being offered a PhD at one of the world's best universities."

A fellow Sanctuary Scholar, who is studying for a Master's in Robotics, applied for a scholarship after he had to quit his studies in Syria due to the ongoing civil war. Had he returned to Damascus University then we would have been faced mandatory military service in President Bashar Assad's army.

The 32-year-old said: "I will be forever grateful to the University of Bristol for their noble and generous Sanctuary Scholarship. I have been able to undertake a Master's degree in the Faculty of Engineering and recently received the great news that I have been awarded a PhD studentship here at the University, under the supervision of an eminent professor and in collaboration with a leading industrial firm.

"This would not have been possible without the help and support of the Sanctuary Scholarship during my Master's degree. I really thank the entire Scholarship team for believing in me."

With funding for a second year, applications are now open for the 2017/18 academic year and the deadline is 22 June.

The scholarships comprise two schemes - a full scholarship for students with no access to financial support from the UK Government; and a partial scholarship for students who can access UK Government support.

Applications will be considered from students applying to the following courses:

  • Full-time and part-time undergraduate degrees (three or four year degrees); and foundation programmes.
  • Full-time and part-time postgraduate Master's programmes (MA, MSc or MRes).
  • Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, and Engineering Design courses are not eligible for Sanctuary Scholarship funding.

Full information on the Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme, including eligibility and how to apply, can be found on the University of Bristol's website.

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