We in the QMUL community will maintain our engagement with the refugee crisis, continually reviewing our provision of funding and services for refugees and asylum seekers, and looking for ways that we can support those in need.
Simon Gaskell, President and Principal of Queen Mary University of London
Carolina Mantzalos, President of Queen Mary Students' Union
What we're doing
QMUL support for refugees and asylum seekers:
- QMUL is a member of Cara, an organisation that helps academics and scientists fleeing from discrimination, persecution, suffering and violence in some of the world's most dangerous places. From January 2016, we will be hosting a Syrian refugee academic in our School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. We are committed to supporting the academic for the duration of his two-year visa.
- We are increasing the provision of our bursaries to asylum seekers. QMUL's Asylum Seekers' Bursaries are intended for asylum seekers, children of asylum seekers and those holding discretionary leave to remain in the UK. The awards consist of a tuition fee waiver and a non-repayable grant worth the equivalent of a Student Finance Maintenance Loan and a Queen Mary Bursary. QMUL has committed to providing four of these bursaries in 2015/16.
- We also offer a bursary to two further asylum seekers or children of asylum seekers, allowing them to pay the 'home rate' tuition fee while their asylum application is under consideration by the Home Office.
- We will provide an International Hardship Fund of £50,000, which will provide support for international students currently studying at QMUL who may need extra financial support to access and remain in higher education if the situation in their home country deteriorates.
- We offer a dedicated support service for care leavers. Often, asylum seekers and refugees who come to the UK as unaccompanied children are care leavers, as they move from the care of their local authority to university. QMUL's support package is offered to students through a designated welfare adviser in the support service for care leavers, and is available throughout their time here.
- Since Christmas 2012, half the money collected every year at the QMUL Christmas Carol service has gone to a small charity called Hand in Hand for Syria. There is a local connection to this charity through the involvement of the Bishop of Stepney’s wife, Gill Newman.
What our students are doing
- Queen Mary Students' Union is working with a collection of passionate students, the student-led volunteer group STAR (Student Action for Refugees) and CalAid to provide support for the refugee crisis. One of our students has started a project, Convoy to Calais, and has inspired us with her dedication to the cause. A cross-campus donation day has already taken place, and we aim to create long-term change and compassion through an ongoing series of events.
- Two students from the School of Geography, Akshi Singh and Danai Avgeri, recently organised a film screening about migrants and refugees in Europe, with a focus on the situation in Greece. The films were followed by a discussion with activists from NOTARA 56 in Athens who have been offering support to migrants passing from the islands to other parts of Europe.
- The Queen Mary Disco Society recently organised an event at the Mile End campus called Disco 4 Change, a music night in which all the ticketed proceeds go to the Red Cross in aid of their refugee fundraiser.
- Niovi Vavoula is a Research Assistant and PhD student at in the School of Law working on EU immigration law. She, along with colleagues from the School of Law, is aiming to organise a series of events in February to provide asylum-seekers and refugees with information regarding legal aid, access to education and recognition of qualifications.
- Molly Glynn, an undergraduate Business Management student, recently attended the 1000b4Xmas march at Parliament Square with several other campaigners. The aim of the march was to put pressure on the government to accept 1,000 Syrian refugees before Christmas, something to which the government has now agreed.
- The Amnesty International Society committee recently held an event to collect funds for the refugee crisis through the Queen Mary Theatre Company Slappin' da bass event. The society committee has chosen to donate the funds to the Convoy to Calais project.
- The Queen Mary Afghan Society and Politics and International Relations Society recently held a public discussion and book launch on the issue of the refugee crisis. The event celebrated the launch of the book The Lightless Sky, the story of an Afghan refugee boy’s journey of escape to a new life in Britain. QMUL lecturer, Dr Christopher Phillips joined the author Gulwali Passarlay for a discussion and Q&A session on the current refugee crisis.
What our academics are doing
- Our School of Law is holding open days for refugees and asylum seekers on Monday 15 February and Tuesday 16 February 2016.
- Dr Yasmin Ibrahim from the School of Business and Management and a colleague, Dr Anita Howarth from Brunel University, have published numerous articles and presented at conferences on the representation of the ‘Jungle’ in Calais and the struggles of the Calais migrants. Their articles challenge and question the mainstream media depictions and political rhetoric, and in the process highlight our deep-seated anxieties about the issues of immigration and the ‘Other’. Their present research looks at interventions by non-governmental organisations, charities, including Doctors of the World, and activists to ‘rehumanize’ the migrant. Their two latest articles are available to download below.
- Sounds of the Jungle Rehumanizing the Migrant [PDF 472 KB]
- QMUL researchers recently began work on a major project to document Europe’s migrant and refugee crisis, reflecting the immediacy and necessity for robust academic analysis and evidence in tackling the current crisis. Led by Professor Elspeth Guild from the School of Law, the research team will create a database of migrant journeys as well as testimonies from interviews with migrants and refugees.
- The International State Crime Initiative based at QMUL works in the research areas of refugees, human rights violations and state violence. Its aim is to connect rigorous research with emancipatory activism.
- The Human Rights Collegium at QMUL is the first association between a university and a non-governmental organisation established to provide scholarly expertise, research and teaching on national and international human rights. We've hosted events on themes around the Syrian Crisis including 'Boat Refugees' and Migrants at Sea: A Comprehensive Approach Integrating Maritime Security with Human Rights, a conference that tackled the issue of 'boat migration' against the background of the fragmentary responses adopted and innumerable tragedies that occur, and a panel discussion on refugee law and human rights.
- Dr Christopher Phillips, Senior Lecturer in the International Relations of the Middle East at QMUL, has blogged extensively on Syria and the refugee crisis, including Syria's Refugees: When Did the West Become So Heartless? and The Plight of Syria's Refugees is Another Security Crisis in the Making. The crisis in Syria has been going on for more than four years and Dr Phillips has been asking what we can do about the situation since 2012 when he hosted a forum on the subject, What Can The West Do About Syria?
How to get involved
We've provided a list below of some action and charity groups who are working to provide aid to refugees and those affected by conflict and displacement around the world. You can support their work through donations, fundraising and volunteering.
- Convoy to Calais
The Convoy to Calais project was founded by QMUL student, Mayisha Begum. The project raises funds to provide supplies to the refugee camps in Calais.
The CalAid group collects donations for those living in the Calais refugee camps.
STAR (Student Action for Refugees) is a national charity of 12,000 students welcoming refugees to the UK through volunteering, campaigning, fundraising and education.
- Refugee Action
Refugee Action in London runs various fundraising events to support their activities including providing legal advice to migrants forced into homelessness, finding accommodation for asylum seekers living on the streets and giving advice on the possibilities for returning home.
- Refugee Council
The Refugee Council offers practical support and advice to refugees and asylum seekers throughout their journey in the UK.
Oxfam has launched an appeal to help the millions of people fleeing their homes around the world.
- Save the Children
Save the Children has a dedicated Syria appeal to help the many children affected there and across the Middle East by the war in Syria.
- Migrant Offshore Aid Station
MOAS (the Migrant Offshore Aid Station) is a registered foundation dedicated to preventing loss of life at sea by providing professional search and rescue assistance to people who find themselves in distress on high sea or trapped on unsafe vessels.
- #HelpCalais Amazon wish list
The #HelpCalais campaign is a trans-European project seeking to provide temporary shelter, clothing and support to refugees making the journey to western Europe. The Amazon wishlist provides an opportunity for supporters to buy the goods that refugees and charities need.
- Kos Solidarity
Kos Solidarity is an independent local charity based on the island of Kos in Greece. The charity has been founded by a group of Kos citizens in support of the thousands of people landing on the island's beaches since last May. Volunteers work to provide food, clothing and emotional support to the refugees on a daily basis.