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University of York to expand access for refugee and asylum seekers

Posted on 26 November 2019

The University of York has signed a new international pledge as part of a commitment to increasing education opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers.

Maryam Taher graduated in summer 2019

Sixteen refugees and asylum seekers are currently studying at the University with three more asylum seekers due to start in 2020 on scholarship programmes.

The pledge led by charities, Student Action for Refugees and City of Sanctuary, calls on HE institutions to expand their work on access to higher education for people seeking refugee protection. More than 15 UK universities have signed the pledge which is being unveiled as part of World Access to Higher Education Day (26 November).


Mary Haworth, Director of the Office of Philanthropic Partnerships and Alumni at the University of York, said: "I am delighted that we have signed this pledge and are continuing to expand the support we provide to enable refugee and asylum-seeking students to access a University of York education. 

"Our staff and alumni care passionately about providing a welcome to refugee and asylum-seeking students and many donate to the Equal Access Scholarships fund which provides funding to support living costs for students with asylum-seeking status. In 2020 we hope to expand our provision even further and for the University of York to become a University of Sanctuary."


The first cohort of students on the University of York’s Equal Access Scholarship scheme graduated in July. The scheme is open to asylum seekers allowing them access to education despite their circumstances, status, and the law about accessing loans. Students receive a full waiver on tuition fees and £10,600 per year maintenance.  Funding is in place to offer three further scholarships in 2020.

Equal Access Scholar Maryam Taher graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Science earlier this year.


She said: "Getting accepted at university through the Equal Access scholarship has been the most positive highlight in my life, and impacted my life in ways that I will never forget. I am eternally grateful for each and every person that supports this scholarship because I know just how life-changing it can be.

"Thank you for improving mine and my family's mental wellbeing and for allowing me to be a good example for my younger brother and others in my community. Thank you for allowing me to make a difference and continuing to do so through my education."

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