24 December 2021

Pioneering courses for refugees and asylum-seekers will run at UEL again in early 2022 after the School of Education and Communities was awarded further funding.

The school has been running the award-winning OLIve courses which introduce asylum-seekers to the British higher education system since 2016.

The funding of £230,920 comes from the Open Society University Network and the project is run in collaboration with Central European University and Bard College Berlin.

The free course offers a holistic approach to understanding university education, with seminars and workshops on English language, academic writing and research, computer skills and creative skills.

The course also provides information on access routes, admissions and scholarships, and helps students navigate these hostile systems and find support and resources to persevere in UK universities. 

Dr Aura Lounasmaa, who has directed the programme since 2016, is moving on and the new director will be Dr Yesim Deveci. Dr Deveci, senior lecturer in psychosocial and community work at UEL was the former Founder/Director of Dost Centre for Young Refugees and Migrants in London.

Dr Deveci said, "I'm delighted to be joining the OLIve team and ensuring that we continue to support refugees and migrants in the UK.  The OLIve courses are a brilliant example of how universities can challenge systemic injustices by supporting displaced people to access Higher Education."

In the past five years the team of teachers and volunteers running the programme has helped more than 50 refugee and asylum seeker students access universities in the UK. The students often have disrupted educations and lack of access to funding due to displacement and hostile immigration policies and practices. 

One former alumni of the course said, "Coming from a war-torn region and having had very little formal education in the past, I struggled to find any information on how to access higher education in the UK. I almost gave up before stumbling on the project by chance. If there is one project that makes such a drastic difference to the lives of migrants who wish to access higher education this is the one. They offer a holistic approach that takes into account the difficulties migrants face in their everyday life. 

"Thanks to this project, I got accepted into my first UCAS choice, a prestigious London University studying what I always wanted to study. As I am not eligible for student finance, they also helped me secure a scholarship for the duration of my degree. Let me be clear, getting into university for migrants is very hard path and there will sacrifices to be made along the journey. The OLIve Project do their best to provide information and prepare you for an academic setting."

Find out more information and how to apply.

Group of refugee students in class with their teacher