Refugees left out

February 25, 2016

The University of Bath’s letter about helping Syrian refugees requires some clarification (“How to help Jordan”, Letters, 18 February). The letter lists five commitments to “build resilience in Jordan’’, arising from a university management visit to Amman. The first two are partnerships with a STEM-focused university in Amman and with the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan, conducting research in areas of national priority. It is not clear, and has not been made clear within the university, how these partnerships will contribute to the welfare of Syrian refugees, and in particular those within the UK. In any case, given that refugees may have no way of proving their educational qualifications, they are, in effect, barred from Jordanian universities.

The third commitment is the opening of a study centre in Amman. This centre was opened at the end of January, so it is clearly not a commitment that arises from the request for studentships for Syrian refugees and, again, will not benefit those refugees.

The fourth commitment is the strengthening of a partnership, that is, a commitment to continue work that is already under way.

The final commitment is an offer to refugees of scholarships on the university’s postgraduate MA in education in Amman. The entry requirements for this MA include a prior teaching qualification. At best, these scholarships will be available to a vanishingly small proportion of refugees and will exclude those without a degree or those who wish to study something other than education.

The university management’s response to requests to establish studentships for Syrian refugees is not, as the letter claims, “new initiatives for the university’’, but a combination of sleight of hand and a grudging rebranding of existing work, designed to give the impression of decency.

Our campaign continues.

Michael Carley, president, University of Bath University and College Union
Chris Roche, vice-president, University of Bath University and College Union
Sally Williamson, student
Kevin Sanders, librarian
And Syrians who do not want their names to be used

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