Balliol initiates scholarship for refugees

Balliol is to initiate a scholarship for refugees starting a undergraduate degrees in 2017. The scholarship is open to any student with refugee status or an ongoing claim to asylum in the UK, Europe or elsewhere.

The award will cover the full cost of tuition, college fees, one return flight from a primary residence outside of the UK per year, as well as a maintenance award. The successful applicant may study any subject currently offered by the college.

The scheme comes after both Balliol’s JCR and MCR passed unanimous motions in favour of its creation. The scheme has been funded by a termly £4 levy, as well as donations from college alumni and university officials.

Further details provided by the college show candidates are required to have “excellent grades, and to have met, or be predicted to meet, the minimum academic entry requirements for [the] chosen course”. English language conditions must also be met.

JCR President Annie Williamson, in a statement published on the college website, said: “Education is a fundamental tool to empowerment, but higher education opportunities are snatched away from refugees, who face great uncertainty about whether they can ever return to study – even the most able students. There are currently over 20 million refugees worldwide, and Balliol JCR and MCR have responded to this crisis in the small way that we can, by establishing the Balliol Student Scholarship.”

MCR President Angharad Jones told The Oxford Student: “‘Enthusiastically supported by both Balliol JCR and MCR, this scholarship will give a refugee student the chance to gain a university education despite their uncertain circumstances, offering a small yet significant response to the global refugee crisis.”

Although the only college so far to formally offer a scholarship of its kind, Balliol is not alone in its plans for refugee students. Christopher Smart, Secretary of Oxford Student’s Refugee Campagin (OxSRC), said: “Balliol is working in partnership with Oxford Student’s Refugee Campaign and so is part of a wider programme of scholarships across the university being put in place. Balliol is unique in the fact it alone has alumni backing for a place at the college specifically but it is by no means the only college initiating refugee scholarships with OxSRC.”