• All those seeking refugee protection to be able to study as home students
• Students seeking refugee protection to be recognised as having additional needs just like other vulnerable people and to be given the same access to additional support, such as bursaries
A number of universities have already adopted Equal Access including Manchester, Leeds and Royal Holloway, we want this to be successful at the University of York.
Asylum seekers and those with Discretionary Leave to remain are people whose applications for asylum are still being processed or appeal, and so they hold no refugee status, nor are they allowed to work. In terms of economic support, a single asylum seeker receives approximately £5 a day from the British government, half the amount a British citizen on benefits would receive.
Those under the age of 18, classed as dependants of the applicants, must receive full-time education between 5 and 16 years of age. At 17 1/2 years, they will have to reapply for an extension of Discretionary Leave for a further 3 years. After which they will apply for indefinite leave to remain, "if we do not recognise you as a refugee or a person who qualifies for humanitarian protection, we may give you another type of temporary permission to stay in the UK. This permission is called 'discretionary leave to remain. How long you are allowed to stay will depend on your circumstances, but it is unlikely to be more than three years initially."
Until February 2011, asylum seekers were charged home student fees, and had access to student loans. The amendment to charge asylum seekers international students fees (£8,500 to £29,000 per year) completely restricts their access to university, for they have no access to student loans and are unlikely to have such funds. The cost of providing asylum seekers with equal access, or home student fees, would be marginal in relation to the number that apply, due to the lack of likelihood that they will receive an extension of their Leave to Remain. Economically, this is thus a viable, and highly symbolic action the university (and country) ought to undertake. It would represent an acceptance of all, irrelevant of background or (possession of) passport, provide young and motivated people with access to higher education, and take a clear stance on opposing the segregating ideals the asylum process implies.
NUS and STAR are campaigning together to open colleges and universities to those seeking refugee protection in the UK.