University of East London launches course for refugees

University of East London's Stratford Campus

University of East London's Stratford Campus - Credit: UEL

Leaving your country because of war can be a life-changing decision.

As well as leaving behind your home, your job and your family, for some it also means leaving behind the chance of an education.

Now the University of East London is offering refugees and asylum seekers a new pathway to higher education with a new, free short course.

Known as the Open Learning Initative, or OLIve, it is funded by a 440,000 euro grant from the European Union’s Erasmus programme and will be run simultaneously with universities in Austria and Hungary.

UEL will offer an initial short course that will be taught on Saturdays and will provide 40 participants the opportunity to learn the essential skills need to progress towards higher education.

It will provide seminars and workshops in higher education reading and writing, English language for academic purposes, computer skills and issues around social sciences, migration, and globalisation.

Dr Aura Lounasmaa will oversee the new OLIve programme, and said: “We know that there is a real demand of educational support among refugees, who are often unable to access paid work and formal education or apply for financial support.

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“All European countries are currently hosting exceptionally high numbers of refugees, so it’s particularly important that we have partnered with other European universities and organisations to share knowledge and experience.”

The second phase of the scheme, OLIve Up, will launch in September and offers an advanced 10 month foundation course that can be used as a stepping stone to a full bachelor degree.