What is Equal Access at Bath?
The Equal Access at Bath Campaign is a student led initiative launched in April 2021 campaigning for an undergraduate level scholarship to be provided for asylum seeker students. Our efforts have built upon the University's excellent support for refugees, pre-university level and postgraduate level asylum seekers.
In collaboration with the SU, the UCU, and the University we raised over £7,500 to go towards a tailor-made financial support package for a local Asylum seeker student to study at the University of Bath. This money, with the help of waivered tuition fees granted by the University, will allow an asylum seeker student to attend the university for a 3-year course. But we want to do more!
Why do Asylum Seekers need our support?
Asylum seekers are individuals who have been forced to leave their country of residence due to fear of persecution or threat to their safety in their home country.
In 2020, there were over 38,000 claims for asylum in the UK, and just under 13,000 were granted ‘asylum seeker’ status by the Home Office. These individuals have often faced unprecedented challenges along the road to residing in Britain. Asylum seekers are one of the most marginalised groups in Britain as this immigration status means that they have extremely limited access to citizenships and human rights within our borders.
This creates immense barriers to economic and social inclusion, one of which being their inability to access the financial means to attend higher education. This group cannot access student finance and are therefore extremely unlikely to be able to attend higher education without additional support. Consequently, less than 1% of asylum seekers are enrolled at university in the UK.
Wider support for this cause
International and national context - The UN Declaration of Human Rights states that "Higher Education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit". The right to education is both a human right and an enabling right: it transforms lives, paving the way to better work, health, and livelihoods (2010 UN Resolution). In response to this, the UNHCR calls for these programmes to be ‘scaled up’ (UNHCR). This is what our campaign is seeking to do.
University of Sanctuary (UoS) - Bath recently received a ‘University of Sanctuary Award’, demonstrating the excellent work done so far to support forced migrants, at the University and in the local community. They similarly identified one remaining gap to be filled: “there is a missing bridge between the outreach work and the PG scholarships" (University of Sanctuary Panel, 2020). The UoS Committee recommended that we now expand our horizons, offering more assistance to prospective undergraduate level scholars with asylum seeker status. Taking their expert advice onboard, we are seeking to bridge this gap.
In the voice of Lionel, a 19-year-old asylum seeker
We chatted to Lionel, a 19-year-old asylum seeker, living in South Wales. He was unable to go to university last year due to being denied student finance, despite achieving the grades required. Recognising that scholarships were the only reliable way to access higher education, he wrote that: "As an asylum seeker, you are not able to work to earn money so you can't pay for the fees and living costs. Most asylum seekers/refugees are classed as international students and their fees are much higher than home students”.
He went on to express the benefits this would personally bring him: “Personally, attending higher education will help me to rebuild my life but also enable me to contribute back more into my host community."
The success of Bath’s Postgraduate Scholarships
Our university has been successfully providing postgraduate scholarships for asylum seekers for several years now. We have seen the multitude of benefits of this for both the individuals involved and the University itself. We asked some of the previous scholarship recipients about their experiences, who all agreed that higher education had been extremely valuable in building their capabilities and opening opportunities for the future. They noted that without the additional funding and support they would not be able to study.
How Will Your Gift Be Used?
The use of this money is entirely dependent on the support shown to the campaign. Any money raised under a set amount (TBD by the university based on the means of the selected student) will be added straight to the £7.5k already in the asylum seeker’s tailor-made financial support package. This money will be gifted to the student in the form of food credits, waivered transport to and from the university, a gym membership (if requested) as well as any other any other conveniences to allow the student to survive and thrive on campus over the period of their three-year course. Any money raised over the aforementioned amount will be kept in a separate pot to go towards a potential second undergraduate scholarship in the future!
Follow our social media pages to keep up to date with our campaign. We will be posting regular updates including quotes, videos, financial updates, further information, resources and more:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/equal_access_at_bath/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/EqualAccessBath
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/EAABCampaign/
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/76323047