Launch of UWE's Refugee and Migrant support hub

Issue date: 03 December 2009

The Pierian Centre, Bristol 10 December 2009 10.00 to 15.00
The Watershed Bristol 10 December 2009 18.00 to 20.00

The University of the West of England will hold the official launch of its Refugee and Migrant Support (RMS) Hub at the Pierian Centre and the Watershed in Bristol on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2009. UWE is the first University in the South West to offer this kind of support.

The event at the Pierian Centre is an academic workshop on refugees in Higher Education and will take place from 10.00 to 15.00. The event at the Watershed is a debate with guest speakers from 18.00 to 20.00.

Speakers will include Professor Geoff Channon, Assistant Vice Chancellor, UWE; Ann Lonsdale, Cambridge University and National Secretary General (Honorary) Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA); Madge Dresser, Reader in History, UWE; Paul Stephenson, OBE; Bristol Legacy Commission and Dr Abel Ugba, Senior Lecturer, UEL, and Chair, Exhiled Journalists Network. The speakers will all give talks on the theme of Accessibility Rights for Refugees and Migrants in the light of their organisational and personal experience.

The RMS hub was set up in June and aims 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.

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 funded Pathfinder research project carried out by UWE's Human Rights Unit in 2008.

Human Rights Unit Director and Reader in Politics at UWE, 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.”

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

“In addition to this, 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.

“The RMS Hub is already making a significant 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.”

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