London university offers free course just for refugees and asylum seekers

Seminars and workshops to teach higher education reading and writing, English language for academic purposes, computer skills and issues around social sciences, migration, and globalisation

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The Independent Online

Refugees and asylum seekers in the UK are being invited to study at a London university free of charge as part of a radical new scheme.

The University of East London is to launch a new short course known as the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) that will give refugees and asylum seekers the educational grounding to progress to a foundation course and ultimately a full bachelor degree.

Candidates will be able to attend seminars and workshops in higher education reading and writing, English language for academic purposes, computer skills and issues around social sciences, migration, and globalisation.

The first OLIve course will be a short programme with a 40-person capacity, to be taught on Saturdays from April this year.

In September, UEL will provide the next stage in the educational pathway with the launch of a ten-month programme.

The OLIve course is funded by a 440,000 Euro grant from the EU’s Erasmus+ programme, and comes as part of a joint initiative between UEL, the University of Vienna, the Central European University (CEU) in Hungary and the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).

All three universities are to run similar access courses and are in the process of developing guidelines for best practice with guidance from ENAR.

UEL, located in Stratford City and the east London Docklands, is home to the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging and hosts the Refugee Council Archive – an extensive worldwide collection of books, journals, reports and films on forced migration.

Last year, the university ran a “University for all” higher education short course, which was taught to refugees living in the Calais Jungle.

Dr Aura Lounasmaa, a lecturer at UEL’s School of Social Sciences, was part of the small academic team who worked in Calais and will oversee the new OLIve programme.

She said: “We know that there is a real demand of educational support among refugees, who are often unable to access paid work and formal education or apply for financial support.”

“All European countries are currently hosting exceptionally high numbers of refugees, so it’s particularly important that we have partnered with other European universities and organisations to share knowledge and experience.”  

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