Trekking for Refugee Scholarships
The Widening Participation Unit at Macquarie is passionate about supporting refugees. And they love walking. For Refugee Week 2018, the team combined these two interests and trekked for refugee scholarship support.
Sonal Singh, Widening Participation Planning Manager states, “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated in 2017 that only one per cent of refugees have access to higher education compared with 36 per cent of the global population. Very few refugees make it to University. Among a myriad of restrictions, for many it is simply unaffordable.”
Students who enter Australia as asylum seekers and who remain on bridging visas while their applications for refugee status or residency are reviewed, are considered international students under Australian legislation. In some cases, the student has been in the country for many years and have completed their schooling here, but they are required to pay international student fees if they wish to study at university, which is prohibitive for many.
The students need financial support to buy basic stationary to meet their educational requirements. Widening Participation Unit decided to conduct fundraising activities to raise funds to set up a Refugee Financial Need Grant which will support current Macquarie University students who are refugees and asylum seekers access educational support.
Donor support has covered tuition fees for one of the students who was not eligible for HECS HELP due to her visa changes. She shares, "When I was studying at my high school, I always wanted to go to university. Alas my dream was going to be shattered as I found myself to be grouped as an international student because I was on a bridging visa. That’s when I heard about the Macquarie University fee scholarship from my caseworker. I applied for the scholarship and was very happy to get it. I arrived on campus feeling at home as it has always embraced me regardless of my background. When I came here, I did not feel like I am a stranger.
Actually, the scholarship has helped me feel like I'm home.
Support for the trek has been unanimous and it is slated to become an additional event. "Our annual Trek is becoming an important event on the Widening Participation calendar. The event provides an important opportunity for colleagues and friends to support our mission and improve the experience of our students from this equity group". Professor Sean Brawley Pro Vice Chancellor (Programs and Pathways)
Additionally, the Widening Participation Unit is hosting more fundraising activities during Refugee Week 2019 later this month. For more information and to participate, visit the event page.
Content owner: Advancement Last updated: 11 Jun 2019 2:00pm