Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has launched a programme to provide support to young refugees and asylum seekers who are interested in higher education.
The initiative includes monthly sessions at the institution that provide information about the UK higher education system and how to access finance, offer introductory tours and academic taster classes in a range of subjects, and give English-language support.
Lucy Judd, outreach coordinator at Nottingham Trent, told Times Higher Education that the project was started in response to growing demand from local authorities and professional carers, who expressed concerns about providing relevant information on higher education to young asylum seekers and refugees.
She said that the majority of those who attend the sessions are already part of an existing youth group at the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, although anyone could participate, and so far attendees have been between the ages of nine and 19.
“At the first few visits, lots of young people were very interested in English, maths and science – the traditional academic subjects. But sessions in art and design and broadcast journalism are making them see that there are other potential courses that are interesting,” Ms Judd said.
“It’s about making them more informed about what’s available here and what support might be around for those at the later stages, who have better English and are maybe looking at finance. We try to tailor it to each individual.”
She added that while much of the sector support in this area so far has focused on short-term solutions, such as creating and increasing scholarships and student places, this scheme aimed to help in the long term by preparing young people who are not yet at the university application stage. The initiative also offered a potential solution to the problem of finding prospective eligible students, Ms Judd continued, by identifying talented individuals early on.
She said next term there is likely to be a visit to the University of Nottingham, to allow participants to learn about another institution.
NTU has also awarded two PhD scholarships to refugees, with help from the Council for At-Risk Academics, and has committed to offering two undergraduate places through the Article 26 refugee scholarship initiative each year until 2021.