As the refugee crisis unfolded across headlines over the summer, the Oxford Students Refugee Campaign (OXSRC) was instigated as a means by which we as a community of students at the University of Oxford could do our bit to help those fleeing war and persecution. Our university has a history of helping refugees, and has taken commendable steps so far this year to offer places to at-risk academics forced to leave their homeland, but we want to extend this initiative to students fleeing those same areas too. As one of the most prestigious universities in the world, we feel that if Oxford can seize the initiative with regards to this issue, then it will set a powerful example for other universities to follow.
The OXSRC aims at coordinating the efforts of student, academic and administrative members of the Oxford universities to work with refugee assistance organisations to develop organised, proportionate, clear and comprehensive financial and welfare support for displaced students whose studies have been disrupted. The University authorities have been very receptive to our ideas so far, and seem willing to back our scheme administratively. Our plan is to get every student (and hopefully every staff member too) at Oxford University to pledge to contribute just £1 a month to fund such a scholarship, by passing motions through every common room. This is a small payment individually, but if every student in Oxford did this, we could in theory cover the living expenses of 20 asylum -seeking and refugee students annually.
We’re limiting the payment to 2 years: We want to get this scheme off the ground, show the university that this is an initiative that the student body feels is important and wants to promote, and prove that if the scholarship is there, then refugees will apply for it. But ultimately we want to send the message that this is something that the wealthy university and alumni should be funding, not people living on a student budget. We’ll get the ball rolling, but we don’t want the university to feel that it isn’t their problem.
As well as passing these motions, our campaign is looking to get word out to potential applicants for these scholarships, and compile the much-needed evidence that the demand is there. In order to do this, we are working with a number of local, national, and international organisations, such as CitizensUK, Article 26 project, STAR, Universities UK, International Students Network UK, NUS, OUSU, Refugee Studies Centre, Asylum Seekers Network, Refugee Support Network, Oxford City of Sanctuary, etc. We are confident that if common rooms agree to fund it, then we can get refugee students to apply.