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10 October 2014, 07:11
Asylum-seeking students are to be offered scholarship funding by a Scottish university.
The University of Strathclyde has announced plans to offer financial support to up to three asylum seekers starting courses this academic year.
The fund, which would meet tuition and study-related costs, has been developed along with the university's Students' Association and the Scottish Refugee Council.
University bosses said the move underlined its commitment to recruitment based on merit.
According to the institution, young asylum seekers were not usually eligible for student funding, meaning they could face difficulties and delays in progressing to higher education while they waited for a decision from the Home Office.
This funding development would enable talented students to bridge the gap between school and university, it is claimed.
Dr Veena O'Halloran, the university's director of student experience, said: "Strathclyde was founded as a place of useful learning for all, regardless of background or means, and we are proud of our long history of breaking down barriers to education.
"Over the course of the past year, we have pioneered a range of innovative approaches to widen participation.
"The asylum seeker scholarships we are announcing today underline our continuing commitment to recruitment based on merit.
"They form an important part of our commitment to increasing opportunities for people from a diverse range of backgrounds to promote the life-transforming experience that success at university can bring.''
Roza Salih, of the University of Strathclyde Students' Association (USSA), the group's vice president for diversity and advocacy, said: "I'm absolutely thrilled that the university has agreed to help three asylum seekers to access higher education.
"This will create life-changing opportunities for those whose talents might otherwise have been wasted.''
Ms Salih, from Kurdistan, was one of seven secondary school pupils whose 2005 campaign to raise awareness about asylum seekers' experiences inspired the hit musical the Glasgow Girls.
Elodie Mignard, integration development officer at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: "When people come to Scotland seeking safety and protection from persecution they bring a wealth of skills, talent and experience with them.
"We welcome the university's proactive stance in supporting asylum seekers to develop these skills further.
"Access to education is key to helping refugees successfully rebuild their and their families' lives here in Scotland.''