Supporting refugees into University and helping them succeed as students

“It felt that when one door opened, another door was shut,” explained a young medical student, who had first come to the UK as a refugee.

Many young people who are refugees or asylum speakers aim to attend University alongside their peers – but they may face challenges that UK-born students don’t.

Newnham College’s Dr Tugba Basaran and Esme Page, alongside many others, are working to support these young people in overcoming these challenges.

The group held a webinar on Access to Higher Education for Refugees as part of Refugee Week: for those who couldn’t join us live, this is now available as a recording online.

In the first session, Dan Webb of Refugee Education explained some of the structural, financial, contextual and everyday barriers that students from a forced migration background may face. These include negotiating a difficult immigration system, difficulties proving previous academic qualifications, underdiagnosis of specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, financial issues and more.

Medical student Shehany then explained her own academic journey, the scholarship she holds, and some of the challenges she overcame.

The second session focused on admissions to competitive Universities, and was aimed at prospective students from a forced migration background. Esme Page, Dan Webb and Amber Cuttill of Pembroke College Cambridge shared their advice. Technical support throughout was provided by Lucy Rogers, who is Newnham’s Schools Liaison Officer.

Dr Tugba Basaran has also created a Refugee Access to HE/Advisory hub for staff and students to use as a central point for information.

The last word goes to Shehany: “Don’t give up. It felt that when one door opened, another door was shut, but I just kept striving to achieve that dream. Keep applying to all the different scholarships that you can find, and if you don’t get in the first time, try again!”