Thursday, September 07, 2017

Refugee On Campus

If you’re one of the lucky ones getting ready for your first term at University this autumn then you might be thinking about all sorts of things – making new friends, accommodation, which clubs and societies to join. It’s an exciting time right?

For other students though getting to university in this country is truly transformative.

That was the case for queer student – Shrouk El-Masry – who tried to escape Egypt’s restrictive LGBTQ+ laws and study in the UK.

Shrouk found a problem with our education system – asylum seekers are treated no differently from international students and must pay the same heightened university fees. That’s despite this country preventing them from working or accessing student finance.

Refugee on Campus, a powerful short film, tells Shrouk’s story in her own words – being asked by a judge to “prove your sexuality” after seeking asylum in the UK in 2007, and then being accepted by lots of universities.

But classed as an international student there was no way Shrouk could afford the course fees. So in 2009 – prevented form earning money – the offers of a university place were turned down.

Things changed in 2013 when Shrouk was granted asylum – and was finally able to go to university.

The first year at Cardiff University was memorable. “I was in my electronics class and I remember looking at the ceiling and I was like – it’s not just a ceiling, this is a ceiling of a place that I was barred to go to for seven years. That was so overwhelming”, Shrouk recalls tearfully.

At Uni Shrouk has a stage show – ‘Dancing Queer’ – which is as a protest against the treatment of LGBTQ+ people in Egypt; and runs the local STAR (Student Action for Refugees Group).

They hold conversation classes with refugees, do fundraising, and highlight STAR’s ongoing Equal Access Campaign which Shrouk describes as “really cool”.

Now hopeful that things are already beginning to change for refugees seeking education in the UK, thanks to the Equal Access campaign Shrouk says: “I’m happy that a lot less asylum seeker have to go through what people like me had to go through”.

Posted by STAR team on 07/09/2017 at 01:56 PM