UWE sets up Refugee and Migrant Support Hub

Issue date: 06 October 2009

University of the West of England The University of the West of England has set up a Refugee and Migrant Support (RMS) Hub to provide a single point of access to facilitate academic and educational opportunities for scholars at risk including refugees, asylum seekers, and others from underrepresented communities. UWE is the first University in the South West to offer this kind of support.

To help its work in tackling injustice and social exclusion, and other barriers to education the RMS hub has set up a Sanctuary Education Fund.

UWE Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve West said, “The University prides itself on providing opportunities to all in the UK. This new initiative will offer much needed focus and support for refugees and migrants. Although the Sanctuary Education Fund is currently modest, it will be targeted at those most in need, which is a step in the right direction.”

The RMS Hub is the result of a six-month Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) funded Pathfinder research project carried out by UWE's Human Rights Unit (HRU) in 2008.

HRU Director and Reader in Politics Dr Christien van den Anker said, “The Human Rights Unit is delighted that its efforts to integrate research, teaching and training in the area of migrant rights is growing into an important pillar of the unit's work. It is exciting to see that we brought together the University and the city in supporting academic work that creates effective change for people whose human rights are not easily accessible.”

The RMS Hub's offers access to training, mentoring, work placement and shadowing; qualification verification and recognition; funds to support studies; coordination of
outreach activities into refugee and other under represented communities; staff training on equality and diversity; and research, training and knowledge exchange consultancy in understanding and working with BME communities.

Senior Research Fellow and RMS hub project Manager Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, researched the existing and needed structures to set up this service.

“I am very excited that since opening our doors in June we have been overwhelmed by the steady increase of enquiries from refugees and others from underrepresented migrant communities. So far 20 people have been offered places to study at UWE. Others who did not meet the entry requirements have been signposted to FE colleges to top up and come back next year.

“Thanks to funding from the Bristol Legacy Commission the RMS hub is providing financial assistance to six refugee students in desperate financial circumstances to pursue part time postgraduate studies in Human Rights, Construction Project Management, MBA, and Management starting this autumn.

“The RMS Hub is already making a huge contribution to promoting workforce diversity in important sectors such as the NHS as three of the six students offered places in the School of Health and Social Care through the hub are doing midwifery, radiotherapy and mental health nursing, three areas currently experiencing a huge under representation of Black and Ethnic Minority staff.”

The official launch of the RMS Hub will take place on Human Rights Day 10 December 2009 at the Pierian Centre and Watershed.

For more information, visit: RMS Hub website

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