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Oxford University students launch scholarship campaign to help get refugees back into education

Developments come as US government reveals refugees from across the world will be able to take more than 1,000 online university courses for free

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Tuesday 21 June 2016 11:33 BST
The University of Oxford, pictured
The University of Oxford, pictured (Alamy)

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A student at Oxford University who started a campaign to fund scholarships for refugees has revealed that £240,000 has been pledged over a two-year period.

BBC News reports how biomedical engineering student, Thais Roque, launched the Oxford Students Refugee Campaign (OxSRC) in October last year, aiming to lobby the university and colleges to provide scholarships for refugee and asylum-seeking students.

From the, so far, 11,000 students who have joined the cause, supporters will donate £1 a month over the two years.

It is hoped that, starting in the academic year 2017/18, scholarships will be available at the institution for those whose education has been disrupted because of conflict or natural disaster, with applications opening this September.

Ms Roque said in an online statement: “Our university has a history of helping refugees, and has taken commendable steps this year to offer places to at-risk academics forced to leave their homeland, but we want to extend this initiative to students fleeing those same areas too.

“As one of the most prestigious universities in the world, we feel that if Oxford can seize the initiative with regards to this issue, then it will set a powerful example for other universities to follow.”

She added how the response to the campaign has been “overwhelming,” and said: “We have been bombarded with emails from young people desperate to continue their higher education and pursue what some of them call their ‘last chance’. Students displaced in New Zealand, Turkey, France, Greece, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, and Lebanon are sharing with us their moving stories of hardship and perseverance. They are living proof of the immense need for scholarship schemes like the ones we are proposing.”

The developments have come as it is revealed refugees from across the world will be able to take more than 1,000 online university courses for free as part of a collaboration between the US government and online education provider, Coursera.

In an effort to provide education and skills training to as many people as possible as part of World Refugee Day, the US Department of State announced on Monday Coursera will provide fee waivers to organisations working directly with refugees, allowing them to gain qualifications in the new Coursera for Refugees initiative.

Lila Ibrahim, Coursera’s chief business officer, said one of the best ways to reach the people who need education opportunities the most is by working with organisations that understand the local needs.

Rebecca Taber, head of government partnerships at Coursera, added: “Nearly 60 million people worldwide are currently forcibly displaced. Coursera for Refugees is designed to provide as many of them as possible with greater access to education in career relevant skills, as they navigate new homes and difficult times in their lives.”

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