Refugees and asylum seekers struggle financially to access higher education, but a new initiative at Swinburne University of Technology is offering successful applicants the opportunity to study without having to pay tuition fees.
From 2017, Swinburne will offer a range of ‘Welcome Scholarships’ to holders of Bridging Visas E (subclass V050) and Temporary Protection Visas (subclass V785) including:
- Six undergraduate scholarships
- Four Diploma/ Advanced Diploma scholarships
- Four Foundation/ UniLink scholarships
The university will also cover the concession cost of vocationally-offered certificate courses, which will be jointly funded through the Victorian Training Guarantee.
Dr Andrew J Smith, Vice-President (Students) at Swinburne says the scholarships have been introduced to give more students access to tertiary education.
“At Swinburne, we believe in the inclusiveness of further education.”
“By offering these scholarships, we’re giving refugees and asylum seekers the chance to gain a qualification and further their skills, without the financial burden.
“We’re proud to be a dual-sector university, offering genuine pathways for students. We have courses ranging from certificates and diplomas, through to degrees and beyond.”
Limited education opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia
Current federal government policy stipulates that refugees and asylum seekers on Temporary Protection and Bridging Visas cannot apply for permanent protection and therefore will never have the option to become Australian citizens. This also means they will not be eligible for a Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) or a Commonwealth Supported Place at university.
They are instead recognised as international students and must pay their fees up front, even though they live in Australia.
Making dreams come true
For Bibi Batool, studying at an Australian university is the key to her finding employment in her new home country.
Originally from Pakistan and living in Australia on a bridging visa, Bibi came to Melbourne in May 2015 after suffering persecution in her native country.
“Life in Pakistan was very much stressful. Although I had employment opportunities there, I was living in fear. There was always a fear that you were next.”
After completing a Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques at Swinburne this year which was funded by the Victorian Training Guarantee, following a referral from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Bibi would like to enrol in a Diploma of Laboratory Technology.
However, paying for a diploma as an international student is out of reach, without the assistance of a scholarship.
“I really enjoyed studying lab techniques at Swinburne and I would like to continue my studies next year. Eventually, I would like to be able to teach science in Australia.”
How to apply
Applications for Swinburne’s Welcome Scholarships are open until Friday 13 January, for semester 1 2017. All applicants must take care to complete the two steps involved in the application process. Find out more about the application process.
For more information about the scholarships and to find out if you are eligible, contact Sue Oldham.