Sulaiman Wihba, a twenty-year-old Syrian refugee, has been awarded the Balliol Students’
Sulaiman fled Syria along with his mother in 2015, taking a hazardous route
through the Eastern Mediterranean and enduring a five-hour sea crossing in a dangerously
overcrowded boat to reach the UK.
In January 2018, he received an unconditional place to study for an undergraduate degree in
mathematics at Balliol college, having already achieved A*s in maths, further maths, physics
and chemistry at A-level.
The scholarship was established by the students of Balliol, and will cover Sulaiman’s tuition
fees and living costs during his time at Oxford.
The aim of the scholarship was to help young people who saw their opportunities for higher
education snatched from them because of the uncertainty they faced as refugees. The Balliol
JCR and MCR, both unanimously passed motions to create an opt-out levy of £4.00 a term
per person to help partly fund this scholarship, which led to 80% of Balliol students donating.
Balliol’s JCR President, Leah Mitchell, has said: “Those affected by the refugee crisis
currently face significant barriers to higher education. This scholarship recognises this,
seeking to combat some of these barriers by providing some support to a talented student
who, despite the obstacles facing him, has worked hard to pursue his education”
The JCR and MCR are working with the college to try and develop a structure through which
the students can raise funds for another scholarship to enable more young people, like
Sulaiman, to benefit from higher education.