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Outreach work could improve number of refugees reaching higher education – by Lucy Judd

Lucy Judd, Outreach Coordinator at Nottingham Trent University, explains how outreach work plays an important part in refugees seeking education.


At Nottingham Trent University, we believe that although refugees face significant barriers to accessing university, outreach work can play a vital role in providing the extra support necessary to help navigate those additional hurdles.

Experience tells us that volunteers, teachers, foster carers, and other professionals who are already doing much to support refugees, are often unsure about how best to advise those aspiring to university study. By working in collaboration with local organisations, we are able to provide clarity around what can be a very confusing and complicated process.

This kind of work is about identifying the needs of the individual and providing effective signposting. For many, simply visiting a university and talking to staff and students offers valuable motivation and reassurance that they can achieve their goals. For others, it is about providing the opportunity to practice English, socialise with peers and visit new parts of the city as part of a group that is welcoming and supportive. We also anticipate that outreach will increasingly become a platform for supporting those whose studies have been interrupted by their displacement, to get back on track with learning here in the UK and to continue pursuing their chosen careers.

Ultimately, outreach provides the long-term support and access to university which is especially necessary when the journey there for so many refugees will be a long one.

To date, work at Nottingham Trent has been about establishing the Refugee Outreach Programme and shaping it to be as effective as possible. We offer opportunities to find out more about the UK higher education system and accessing finance, tours and academic taster sessions, as well as English-language support at evening classes and an annual summer school.

This year, we will see our first asylum-seeking outreach participants take up their offered university places at institutions across the country – and all with suitable funding in place to help ensure their smooth transition and ultimate success.

So far, hundreds of young people and adults have had pre-entry access to Nottingham Trent and other institutions through our Refugee Outreach Programme, and we are hopeful that over time this will have an increasing impact on the number of people from refugee backgrounds that we will see successfully progressing to university here in the UK.



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