Newcastle students demand creation of refugee scholarship
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A petition launched by Newcastle University's branch of national campaign Student Action for Refugees (STAR) calls on the university's Vice-Chancellor to create two scholarships for refugees. The Change.org petition has almost reached its target of 500 signatures. At the time of writing, 440 students have put their names to the demands, meaning that only 60 more signatories are needed before the petition can be presented to the university's Vice-Chancellor Chris Day. Newcastle STAR group are calling on their university to join the growing list of UK institutions that offer full scholarships or heavily discounted fees to applicants with refugee status. 46 universities, including Oxford, LSE and Sheffield, currently offer fee waivers to a limited amount of students. This year, SOAS became the latest to offer such support to hopeful applicants. Newcastle is one of the universities that currently offers refugee and asylum seeker applications discounted fees. Although they don't have a British passport, they're only charged home fee status. For 2017-2018, this is £9,250 per year of undergraduate education. The petition's description uses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nation's definitive list of human rights, to call on policy makers at Newcastle. They point out that 'everyone has the right to education', but 'the right to education is being denied to people seeking refugee protection'. Summer Oxlade, President of Newcastle STAR, is optimistic: "I'm very hopeful that the university will listen...We're also gathering support from lecturers as well as students, which just goes to show how much people really want to make this a reality. "[The creation of the scholarships] would demonstrate that students have the power to influence their universities...it would also dramatically change the lives of people who wouldn't have been able to go to university without them. Its also about making education more accessible for everyone, which benefits society as a whole." There are other ways to help too. Summer recommends volunteering at food banks and drop in centres: "If you can't do that, then just countering harmful messages that the media put out about refugees to help make Britain, and in turn individual universities, more welcoming to people who have been forcibly displaced." You can find your local STAR group here.