Obstacles to access education, another barrier to successful integration for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK
02.08.13 A new report by the British Refugee Council entitled ‘A Lot to Learn’ examines refugees and asylum seekers’ experiences of accessing post-16 years of age education in the UK.
The report finds significant inconsistencies in the practice of education providers, with some refugees being denied education because of a lack of understanding of their entitlements, both on the part of refugees themselves and of the education providers. Specific obstacles include the difficulty for refugees and asylum seekers to have qualifications attained before arrival in the UK recognised or valued, or a simple lack of knowledge of the UK education system’s functioning. The report therefore recommends greater flexibility on the part of institutions and that funding agencies and education providers make available good quality information and support, to help this group to navigate the system.
Lack of economic support or lack of knowledge about the funding opportunities that are available for some can represent an important barrier to access education. This applies to travel costs to reach the education providers, or the cost of stationary and access to computers for some members of the group. It is recommended that education providers make allowances for such issues, for example by providing stationary to asylum seekers receiving limited section 4 support.
Access to education for refugees and asylum seekers is of particular importance in order for them to be able to integrate successfully into society, be this through gaining the necessary qualifications to find employment, through learning English or through simply making contacts within their new communities.
England was found to have more restrictive legal provisions governing this area than Scotland or Wales. For further information:
ECRE Weekly Bulletin – 08 February 2013
British Refugee Council, Press Release: Education lottery a barrier to integration for refugees and asylum seekers, 31 January 2013
The Children’s Society, Report on the Parliamentary Enquiry into Asylum Support for Children and Young People, January 2013
Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Seeking Support, A guide to the rights and entitlements of separated children- Chapter on education, September 2012
Tes Magazine, Asylum seekers find little refuge in colleges, 8 February 2013