For Syrians studying in the UK, the struggle continues

They might be away from the violence at home, but for Britain's community of around 600 Syrian students, life isn't easy

As most of us delve unwittingly deeper into the academic year, for many Syrians studying at universities throughout the United Kingdom, the prospect of staying at university to complete their chosen academic course remains bleak. Despite attempts by the government, universities and other organizations to alleviate some of the unique financial obstacles confronting Syrian students, who are predominantly in England and Scotland, deep fears about the future of financial support are widespread.

Furthermore, the psychological effects brought on by the unrest at home have severely impacted many students’ ability to remain and study at university. In some cases, Syrian citizens have been forced to abandon their studies altogether due to illness and stress.

Past support

In 2012, it was estimated that more than 600 Syrian students were studying in the United Kingdom. As the events in Syria unfolded, many of these students were cut off from funding for their university studies from both the Syrian government and private bank accounts. The European Union’s sanctions against Syria also restricted the ability to access to funds in Syria in some cases.

Unable to pay fees for the academic year, many students were initially informed by their respective universities that they would have to leave their studies unless a guarantee of payment was received.

The Syria Students UK Fees Campaign was founded in 2012 on the back of these developments to help Syrian students in the United Kingdom facing expulsion from their universities for non-payment of fees. The following year, the National Union of Students threw support behind the campaign, and resolved “to call on all UK universities to waive or reduce the fees or extend the payment periods for all Syrian students affected by the conflict, whether sponsored or self-funded, so that they can complete their studies".

As Christine Gilmore, founder of the Syrian Students UK Fees Campaign, explained to The Independent, “while many UK universities responded positively to the campaign by waiving or deferring fees and giving Syrian students access to hardship funds, others did not, resulting in a lottery of support that means some students are still struggling to continue their studies.

“The campaign continues and we are lobbying the government to ensure parity of treatment for all Syrian students, a factor which would be greatly aided by the creation of an Emergency Fund to top-up the support available to them from their universities.”

Indeed, in the early months of 2013, following this advice, many universities, including the University of Leeds and Kingston University, took measures to ensure that Syrian students were not forced to leave their studies due to lack of payment.

Fresh fears

But in spite of the financial support offered during the early months of 2013, there are renewed fears among Syrian students and those who work with them about financial security for this academic year.

One Syrian student, who wishes to remain anonymous, has outlined some of the problems she faces in remaining at university: “I received minimal financial help last year – an amount that covered about a quarter of the second term of my second year… I am worried I will not be able to pay my fees, and hence will not be able to finish my studies.”

A wholly unprecedented situation in itself, the range of individual issues facing students and their personal financial situations is diverse.

Some Syrian students have taken up part-time jobs alongside their studies to support themselves and their families. One student told us: “I currently feel that my resources for meeting my living expenses are more limited. I have no benefits… and I am doing part-time work, which is about £30-£40 a week. My expenses per week are about £95.”

Psychological impact

And as the unrest rages on, engulfing the entire country and other parts of the Middle East in unparalleled tragedy and chaos, the emotional and psychological strain facing many Syrians studying in the United Kingdom has been detrimental to their studies. Some students have been forced to abandon their studies altogether due to stress.

One student studying in the United Kingdom explained the added psychological impact that financial burdens have had on her studies: “The continuous feeling of being insecure on the financial level, and on other levels, affects my productivity.”

Despite efforts to support Syrian students both within the country and abroad by other non-governmental organizations such as Jusoor, the fears faced by Syrian students studying in the United Kingdom are deep-seated. Pressure must be maintained on universities and the government to address these financial and psychological strains in the long-term, as well as for the current academic year.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz