The Student Action for Refugees (STAR) society have launched a petition campaigning for refugees and asylum seekers studying in the UK to pay the same fees as home students.
Up until February 2011, asylum seekers were charged home student fees, but after amendments to policy, they are now forced to pay international student fees, which range from £8,500 to £29,000 a year.
On top of this, asylum seekers also no longer have access to student loans. STAR argues this restricts their access to higher education as they are unlikely to be in possession of such a large amount of money.
Sophie Mak-Schram, the cochair of STAR-York, said ‘our aim is to change York’s fees charged to asylum seekers, and we’re working with YUSU to garner student support to use to back up our argument for this when we meet people in positions to amend university policy.’
The group believes the cost of providing asylum seekers with fees that match those of home students would be economically viable for the university as the cost ‘would be marginal in relation to the number that apply.’
Another cornerstone of the campaign is that refugees, like other vulnerable people, have additional needs and should therefore be given the opportunity to receive necessary support like bursaries.
The YUSU society is part of the national STAR network and charity, ‘working to improve the lives of refugees in the UK.’ The Equal Access campaign is run in partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS).
York is one of a number of universities across the country currently fighting to open up colleges and universities to refugees.
If the petition is successful in getting student support, we may see York join the ranks of the universities, such as Manchester and Leeds, that have already adopted the scheme.