#RedRoseRefugees initiative takes off

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A new student-led initiative has been recently introduced to help refugees from war-torn countries attend Lancaster University.

The #RedRoseRefugees was started in October by a group of students from the Social Media Activism module at the university. The objective of the group is to start a scholarship programme at the university that will aid students from war-torn countries such as Syria into the university.

LUSU, the student union, have also offered their support to the campaign.

Andrew Chuck Sharp, a third year student at Lancaster, who is involved in the campaign, told SCAN that he feels that “everybody should have a right to an education.”

“We were inspired by other unis like York and Bristol already offering scholarships and felt Lancaster should be doing the same.”

The programme launched by York University sees tuition fees waived for three refugee students each year, as well as maintenance grants funded by philanthropic donations.

Edinburgh University in Scotland has also introduced similar programmes which will see a team of International Officers advise students and staff with refugee status. They have also set aside £100,000 worth of scholarships for refugees.

In 2014, 25,870 people sought asylum in the UK – with only 10,050 accepted. The term “migrant crisis” entered usage in April 2015, when five migrant boats sunk in the Mediterranean sea, leaving nearly 1200 dead.

Article 26 of the Human Rights Act entitles everyone to equal access to higher education, regardless of class or background. A charity aptly named Article 26 has been formed and is working with 18 universities to help asylum seekers gain access to universities all across the UK.

The individual who is behind the charity Article 26, Rebecca Murray, said that “the journey to the UK for migrants is treacherous, but crossing the border isn’t the end of that difficult journey. In many ways it’s the beginning.”

“They just want to get on in very tough circumstances. If they get the right support, they can become a valuable part of society.”

A post on the #RedRoseRefugees Facebook page says: “Similar movements to ours are popping up all over the United Kingdom and beyond.”

“Refugees have experienced some the worst horrors of humanity since WWII, but through acts like these we can educate the disenfranchised and give a voice to the voiceless.”

The initiative has a strong social media presence, and can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/redroserefugees and Twitter at twitter.com/redroserefugees.

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