Bayswater College and RefuAid have teamed up to offer scholarships to refugees in London.

 “We are so grateful to our school partners for their generosity in offering scholarships to our students – without their support our programme quite simply would not exist. Bayswater Education has been fantastically supportive of our project, offering an incredible 5 scholarship places to our students, as well as championing our work to help us expand our network of partner language schools” (Hessy Elliott).

RefuAid is a small charity aiming to support refugees and asylum-seekers in the UK access education and employment in line with their skills and potential. RefuAid's Language Scholarship Programme helps students gain language qualifications like the IELTS and CAE, which open doors to accessing higher education and professional re-qualification in the UK. The programme works by establishing partnerships with private English language schools, who offer scholarships for refugee students to study, while RefuAid’s funding supports the students with exam fees, travel expenses and course materials. RefuAid started the project in January 2017 with one partner school in London, and their network of partnerships has now grown to over 70 language providers across the UK. RefuAid and Bayswater Education established a partnership in April 2018, having discovered their shared values about the importance of access to education for all.

Huda, Shervin*, and Ahmed* are three of the students that Bayswater has supported on the RefuAid Scholarship scheme. Huda came to the UK in 2016, and spoke of her difficulty adjusting to life in London initially: “At the beginning I was very depressed, I was really lonely, I had no friends, no family, no social network here, I was completely alone. I didn’t know anything about life here, the laws and culture...even the smallest things were a challenge. But I decided to accept that I'm here in the UK, and that I would make the best of my situation. It was great opportunity to continue my studies, so I applied to universities in London, and I got offers from Kings College and from SOAS. I chose SOAS because the Masters programme there really appealed to me.” Huda explained how important the RefuAid scholarship at Bayswater was in helping her reach her goals. “I had a degree in English Literature from Damascus University but that didn't mean I was completely fluent in English, and I also needed an English qualification to fulfil the conditions of my Masters offer. So I started looking for support with English courses and preparation for the IELTS exam qualification - my friend told me about RefuAid and that they supported refugees and asylum-seekers with English courses and funding for language exams, so I got in contact with them. RefuAid supported me on their programme and arranged for me to study at Bayswater school. I had such a great time at the school: the atmosphere was so nice and welcoming, the teachers were amazing and inspiring, and the course was so useful in helping me improve my English and prepare for the exam.”

Shervin trained as a surgical assistant in Iran and worked for six years with cardiac surgery teams in several hospitals throughout the country. When he arrived in the UK just over a year ago, his English was pre-intermediate level, so he faced a significant language barrier to re-entering his profession. Shervin described his positive experience at Bayswater on the RefuAid Scholarship: “When I started at the school, the manager and principal of the school both welcomed me. The academic manager has been guiding me perfectly. So many lovely teachers have been teaching us a huge amount of English grammar, vocabulary and IELTS technique in the motivating and interesting atmosphere of Bayswater classes. The staff always answer my questions patiently and with a smile. I really appreciate everyone at the school”.

Ahmed is the newest RefuAid student at the school, having started his Scholarship in October this year. Ahmed graduated with a Law degree in Syria and worked as a solicitor for four years, before being forced to flee the conflict. Ahmed had been attending government-provided English classes for several years before coming across the RefuAid Scholarship programme, but found that these classes were insufficient to help him progress beyond a lower-intermediate level of English. Ahmed spoke of his appreciation for the Scholarship scheme and how it would help him achieve his ambitions: “I am very glad that I joined Bayswater school, it is helping me improve my English a lot – I still have difficulty especially with my speaking, but now I am studying at the school I can practice communicating. After this scholarship, I hope that I can continue my professional training and do a Masters in Law.

The RefuAid-Bayswater scholarships are making a real difference to these students’ lives. “Our students tell us how much they enjoy not only the welcoming environment and quality of teaching at the school, but also the fact that studying with other international students from all over the world helps them regain a sense of normality in their lives, and a sense of purpose moving forward with their ambitions” (Hessy). Shervin’s English has gone from strength to strength while studying on the Scholarship programme; he progressed from pre-intermediate to upper-intermediate level within 5 months, and he has now moved into the Advanced class: “Bayswater has been a perfect place to improve my English skills. Now I am so happy because I can see that my goal of passing the IELTS with a score of 7.0 is in reach. This will allow me to register with the Health and Care Professions Council, and help me return to working in my profession in the UK”.

Huda is the first RefuAid student to complete her Scholarship at Bayswater and move on with her next stage: “After studying at Bayswater for four months, RefuAid supported me to take the exam - I got the score I needed and now I’m studying at SOAS university. I really appreciate the support RefuAid and Bayswater gave me. My Masters at SOAS is in Gender Studies - I was really interested in the subject because it is related to the work I did in Syria, Jordan and Turkey after the conflict started, working with NGOs on Women’s Empowerment programmes and providing psycho-social support to women and children. Now I’m in the UK, I’m excited to be doing a Masters which provides an academic and theoretical background to the area I have practical experience in. I’m really enjoying SOAS, and the course is widening my knowledge about these issues.” “This programme really is transforming people’s lives. With the support of Bayswater Education and our other partner schools, we are helping people gain the skills and qualifications which allow them to access education, return to their profession, and find meaningful employment in the UK.  It is impossible to overstate the power of language learning and the doors that it opens.” (Hessy Elliott)

Bayswater’s gifting of scholarships to RefuAid is part of our Foundation’s commitment to educate and inspire the next generation. To find out more about Education for Good click here. For more information about RefuAid visit their website here