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When I arrived in the UK, I was confused about how to start my academic life – until I found the STAR website, which was the first key to my higher education. STAR helped me understand how to get into university, with full awareness of the requirements and qualifications needed.

Now, I’m an Equal Access Activist, campaigning for Equal Access to higher education for people seeking refugee protection in the UK. I’m completing a Postgraduate Certificate of Management and I’m Vice-President of Birkbeck STAR, the only STAR group led by people with lived experience of seeking asylum.

Supporting each other: the Equal Access Network

I joined STAR to help refugees and people seeking asylum achieve their dreams and reach their ambitions. As Equal Access Activists, we guide the Equal Access campaign, ensuring that it achieves the changes that are really needed. We’ve spoken at international and national conferences, organised workshops to help others on their journey to higher education, and advised institutions like UCAS and the Student Loans Company on what it is like to be a refugee accessing higher education in the UK.

We started the Equal Access Network to create a space where students from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in the UK can connect and learn from each other’s experiences of higher education. We’re a network of current and aspiring university students from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in the UK. We believe that everyone should have equal access to higher education, regardless of their immigration status.

By getting involved with the Equal Access Network, you’ll hear and learn from a variety of experiences from current and former students. You can also share the challenges you face and how you’re achieving your goals. We hold regular events to help you to progress into higher education. 

How you can get involved

Join our Meet & Greet on Monday 26 July 2021! We are excited to invite you to our first (virtual) meeting. This is a very friendly and casual meeting to connect, ask questions and find out how you can be involved in the network. The meeting is open to anyone who is seeking asylum or identifies as being from a refugee background. Please register here before the event.

We hope to see you there, but if you can’t attend, you can:

  • Find advice and information about accessing university for people seeking asylum and/or refugees on the STAR website.
  • Join our Facebook group – an interactive and friendly forum where students from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in the UK can connect and learn from each other’s experiences of higher education. We’d love to hear from you, and what events you would like in the future. 
  • Like our Facebook Page and follow us on Instagram to stay up to date on events and hear our tips about accessing higher education. If you’re not on social media, you can also sign up to the Equal Access mailing list to receive updates on higher education opportunities.

I received really useful support from the STAR team, who helped me find practical courses about getting into university, public speaking, and campaigning. Developing my skills in these areas enabled me to share my experiences with aspiring and current refugee students. Helping refugees and people seeking asylum to overcome obstacles on their academic journey is really important to me, as an activist from an asylum-seeking background. From reading happy messages from students who’ve benefited from the network, to guiding the campaigns, being part of the Equal Access Network is a great experience. 

Waleed is a STAR Equal Access Activist and former volunteer with the STAR national team. He is currently Vice-President of Birkbeck STAR.

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