Across the world, the University of Cambridge is held at the pinnacle of higher education. Consistently occupying top spots in education league tables every year, the institution is often credited for producing some of the world’s leading scientists, politicians and writers, to name a few.
Now, it is also opening its doors to those who need its education the most – refugees affected by humanitarian and political crises.
In a social media update on Monday, lobby group Cambridge Refugee Scholarship Campaign (CRSC) confirmed the university’s decision to offer financial support to at least 10 such students per year through the new scheme.
“The scholarship scheme will aim to have a broad eligibility criteria that is sensitive to the complexities of the humanitarian and/or political reasons that hinder students from coming to Cambridge,” the Facebook update says.
According to Varsity, the decision follows the open letter by Cambridge University Students’ Union Access and Finance Officer Olivia Hylton-Pennant urging for such scholarships. The letter to the university reportedly received about 500 signatures.
CRSC publicity manager Esther Ng said the university’s response to the letter was a “significant step” towards making it “more inclusive to those whose education have been hindered by conflict and/or persecution”.
The University of Cambridge along with its academic match, Oxford, has previously been accused of lacking a diverse student body, making the scholarship particularly notable for international students who may be worried about inclusivity.
Education experts have called for more financial aid for students with asylum seeker or refugee status, following a report by Universities UK that only one percent of the 65 million refugees worldwide are currently in higher education, 40 million of whom are young people.
Refugee students can face language and cultural barriers that prevent them from integrating into a new academic environment, as well as economic and psychological setbacks affecting their ability to fulfil their potential, according to Unite for Sight.
The University of Cambridge seeks to correct this disproportionate representation by offering support to “not only legally-defined refugees but also others who are affected by events that are driving the refugee crises,” reported Varsity.
According to The Cambridge Student, the university joins 59 others across the UK offering financial support for refugee students.
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