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UCL for Refugee Education

Sophie Vinter4 April 2017

By Wes Durdle, UCL Student Support & Wellbeing

Bucket SignBack in February, UCL Student Support & Wellbeing collaborated with UCLU Student Action for Refugees (STAR) on a major project in support of refugee education issues.

UCL for Refugee Education was a week-long programme of fundraising and awareness events across the main campus, that brought together students, staff and external organisations in support of a worthy cause.

Although it’s no longer top of the headlines as it’s been in recent years, the worldwide refugee crisis is certainly still ongoing. One sadly overlooked aspect of the crisis is education. Refugee children are often unable to access this fundamental human right, with only 50% attending primary school and only 1% going on to reach higher education.

Given that one of UCL’s founding principles is that of equal access to education for all, we felt that this issue was close to the hearts of many here at the institution.

StallWe had multiple aims throughout the week, as follows:

  • Highlight the difficulties that refugees face in accessing education
  • Raise money for the charities Edlumino Education Aid and Action for Refugees in Lewisham (AFRIL)
  • Give students and staff the opportunity to work together on an important global issue
  • Provide a platform to showcase UCL’s outstanding research on refugee issues and leading work in support of refugees in higher education, including the launch of new scholarships

To do this, we hosted a range of events, some of which were purely fundraisers, such as charity yoga classes, a charity pub quiz in the IoE and events run with the generous support of the UCLU Women’s Football Club and the UCLU Indian Society.

Overall, we raised around £1,000 for our charities, and also led a drop-off collection, which resulted in a small mountain of clothes and food being sent to refugee camps through Donate4Refugees!

Other events were informational or practical sessions around refugee issues, including a campaigning workshop with Citizens UK, a ‘craftivism’ workshop with UCLU Amnesty International Society and a film screening. Refugee storytellers and poets from the charity Hikayetna also came in to share their experiences.

CollectionIn our panel discussion, UCL academic Dr Francesca Meloni was joined by alumna Joana Dabaj from the charity Catalytic Action and Tom Martin from AFRIL to ask if we are at risk of creating a lost generation, by not doing more to support refugee education initiatives.

The research showcase that started the week saw Dr Rachel Rosen from the IoE and Nerea Amoros Elorduy from the Bartlett School of Architecture presenting their innovative research.

This was followed by Raphaela Armbruster from CLIE and Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh from Geography explaining both the important work of the Refuge in a Moving World network, which brings together researchers involved in refugee issues, and efforts to support forced migrant scholars at UCL.

ResearchShowcaseIt concluded with Lesley Hayman from the Global Engagement Office announcing £500,000 of new funding through UCL’s Access Opportunity Scholarships, to support undergraduates unable to attend university because their immigration status does not entitle them to apply for a student loan.

The week was a tremendous success, and we would like to thank all those who participated and donated. Please continue to support refugee education initiatives at UCL, and contribute to the charities and organisations above.