Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Asylum Seekers Find Little Refuge in Colleges: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Asylum Seekers Find Little Refuge in Colleges: Fe News

Article excerpt

Providers confused by rules are mistakenly rejecting applicants.

Refugees and asylum seekers are being wrongly turned away from some colleges because staff do not understand complex immigration rules, according to a report by the Refugee Council.

Based on a survey of 70 colleges and interviews with asylum seekers and refugees, the report concludes that colleges are often confused about asylum seekers' eligibility for courses: 24 per cent said they were not at all or only "a little" aware of the entitlements. The report also says that people are being turned away if they do not have the documentation usually required for enrolment, such as a passport, because staff are not familiar with refugee paperwork such as the Home Office's Standard Acknowledgement Letter.

The charity is calling for a simple way for colleges and individuals to check eligibility for courses. It also wants the right to education in England to be extended to match that on offer in Scotland and Wales: at the moment, the government chooses where to send asylum seekers, who then face unequal access to education.

"It is unjust that many asylum seekers and refugees face a lottery when applying for further education," said Lisa Doyle, advocacy manager at the Refugee Council and one of the authors of the report, entitled A Lot to Learn: refugees, asylum seekers and post-16 learning.

"While some learning providers are able to support this group to access the education they are entitled to, others are unaware of their needs and entitlements and are turning them away," she said. …

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