Last summer when I got refugee status, I am started to looking for my education. At first I am search by website which college and I am sent my transcripts to a lot of universities what the steps to what I should start. And I went to a lot of colleges in Manchester and I saw a lot of student services and I give them my transcripts. And after that, I applied to Stockport College. This is in Manchester. Yes. There are two levels of support - before you get into the university and after you get to the university.
For example, before I got into education in this country, there had been some organisations helping you improve your English, literally about the educational system in this country, where to go if you got any questions. And after I was admitted, I started doing my master’s here at the university. There’s a department– a whole department - which helps you with finance if you’ve got any financial problems. So they provide you advice. And they can help you with learning skills, for example. They can allocate a lot of time if you need to improve your reading or speaking. They provide it all for free.
And again, if you’re under stress and you really find it very difficult, they support a lot with trainings and mental health well-being. At first when I am try to apply in college, like Manchester College or in Salford College or in Stockport College, they say to me I should start another course. And if I start another course, it takes two years if I want to go to university. So I applied to this college and it’s private. And I can go to this huge university. Talking about my experience, after I’d been admitted to this university, they said we will cover your tuition fees. I was very happy because I’m halfway through.
Then the university, after one week, they sent me an email saying there are these people - these donors, these organisations - that are supporting refugees with tuition fees and even living expenses. Because I already had tuition fees, so I had to look for living expenses. So I went and applied under hardship grants, scholars at risk grants. And I applied for one of these, and I was able to secure living and maintenance funding. The universities in the UK are very active when it comes to supporting students financially.
For example, when I got my scholarship here at the university, they waived the tuition fees for me, but I had to find more money - more funding - in order to be able to live in London and pay for my rent, my flat. The university sent me an email. They said we’ve got this group of people - these organisations are supporting refugees with maintenance, living expenses. I went there and applied. And again, afterwards the university got in touch again. They said, we are giving - there are these hardship grants available for students. And these grants, for example, if you’re suffering financially, they will be able to support you, for example, with transportation or other means of help. Yes.
Actually, when I went to a lot of these colleges in Manchester and I asked them, they advised me to send my transcripts to the NARIC to comparable my certificate. This was the first step. Once I started applying for universities, and I came to the university and I started - I asked them some questions, for example, about my legal status in this country, I mean, what are the challenges for me. I’ve got a lot of support. They told me that if you are an asylum seeker, you will be considered this. If you are a refugee, you will be considered this.
And they told me what kind of documents I need and even like stamps, because you need to have special kind of stamps on your certificate or your transcripts to be - for example, when they asked me for my transcript, they needed the transcript in English because it was in Arabic. So I had to go to a legal translator to stand before me and have my document translated in English. The first step last summer when I got refugee status - when I went to this college and I asked student services, they said to me the first step I should send my transcripts to the NARIC for comparable qualification with UK.
And when I sent my transcripts, they said to me - I sent just my transcripts from my school, not from my university, because my transcripts from my university incomplete. Incomplete. I just sent these transcripts from my school. And they say to me this qual comparable AS level here. Yes, and that’s fine. Very good. Because from A* to E. Yes. After that, the student services in the college said to me I should send this to the universities, and what they said, yes or no. If you’re applying for a UK university, for example, in my case, in my experience, I have to apply. And they asked me for my degree and my transcript. And they were all in Arabic.
And they asked me, please, could you translate it from a legal translator, a sworn translator. They told me, you can go here and here and here, the student services. I went and I got my transcript and my degree translated. Within 24 hours, they were sent back to the university, and I was in. The best thing in my college - is my mentor. It’s very, very good. And she gave me a lot of advice what I should start and what I should to do in the future. Yes, a lot of advice. Actually, in my college, the head teacher is my mentor.
He is every time give me advice what I should do now and in the future when I go to university, when I apply. I received really a lot of support. For example, I have many people who support me. For example, I have PhD students or people who already were students doing the same degree. So they support me a lot. And from time to time, I go out of the university here. So, for example, recently I visited Oxford University and I went to Cambridge as well. So I met new students. We interacted. So it’s a different setting, so it’s very interesting to see the same people studying the same subject but in a different place.
There are many ways for a student to access support. For example, there are many Facebook pages which provide a lot of information on - they answer a whole range of questions. There are websites, for example, for organisations or charities looking after refugees and asylum seekers who want to continue their education. The university, themselves, they have societies, for example. For example, in this university, this is the refugee support society. I mean, they try to answer all the questions that these refugees have or might have.
Another way of supporting these people is having a one-day open day for refugees or asylum seekers where they can come to the university, they meet the staff, they meet the admission team or the legal team, and they can ask all sorts of questions. Yes, the best thing here I found - refugee action. Yes, they help me all of the time, and all of the time sending to me emails how I should be start and sending to me emails, the charities who can cover my funding of my college. Being in the UK for the first year with a family and doing a master’s is not easy.
It’s really challenging because you’ve got a full-time - in doing your master’s, they ask you for a lot. And you really do not want to compromise this with your family. So these people help you with time management on how to allocate the time for your studies, but at the same time how to look after your family. So I found it very, very important. Yes. At first, they should look by website, in my opinion. For me, it took time - about five months. Yes. And I am search about requirements, about here more 70 to universities in the UK. And it’s very, very difficult. And it should be send your transcripts to every, every, every university. And you should wait their response.
OK. At first, spending time to send transcripts to a lot of universities. And you should wait their response, how it’s comparable. And looking the universities in your area. For me, I am looking the universities near Manchester because my family is in Manchester. Yes. I think there’s a lot to say, to be honest. I mean, once you’re at the university, you’re doing your master’s, I think it’s a great opportunity. Because if you are a one-year or a two-year student, make use of that time. This is the best of your entire life probably because you will meet new people, new opportunity for me to explore new ideas, to have fantastic students, fantastic professors.
And you’ve got a whole range - I mean, a wonderful library - millions of books are waiting for you to explore. I find it very interesting. And again, I think it’d be very good to build new relations and meet new students from all over the world and exchange views and ideas. I find it very interesting. And one important thing I find really very interesting - within the university, there’s a buddy within the university that helps you plan after you graduate. If you want to go into work or whatever, they help you with CV building or meeting new organisations or new employment possibilities. They build your - HR - Human Resources - capabilites.
And so after you graduate, you are ready to get into the job market.