UK Bursaries comprise our largest single category of grants. They cover re-qualification costs and post-graduate fees to enable professionals in exile to convert their existing qualifications in order to secure employment on a level commensurate with their skills and experience. Past recipients have included human rights defenders, lawyers, environmental activists, teachers and academics who originate from many different countries. Our grants have enabled such people to gain qualifications in a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are Law, Medicine, Computing, Engineering, Human Rights, Development and Health.
151 bursaries have been awarded since we set up this special Fund 15 years ago. An average bursary grant is in the region of £4,000, but can vary widely depending on each course. We awarded 19 new bursaries in July 2015.
Two of our recent bursary holders are Ali* and Nima*:
Ali was a lecturer and senior academic editor in Ethiopia who fell foul of the ruling party due to his writings and involvement in Oromo affairs. He was wrongly accused of being a member of the Oromo Liberation Front, (OLF), which led to his persecution. When Ali’s first book was published in 2011, he was accused of promoting the OLF cause. He was detained, intimidated and told to re-write the book. He refused to do so, but was released three weeks later after signing a document promising not to produce similar works.
A year later, when he was out of the country, Ali’s house in Addis Ababa was searched three times by intelligence forces. All of his books, computer, hard drive and academic collections were removed. His children were terrified and intimidated. His wife was physically abused. Fearing for his life, Ali applied for political asylum and was granted refugee status within a month. His family have since joined him in the UK and Ali is undertaking his PhD on Oromo Resistance and Integration in the Ethiopian Empire.
Nima is a psychologist and women’s rights activist from Iran who bravely challenged discrimination in Iranian society. She held workshops for women who were victims of domestic violence to encourage awareness of their rights and conducted research into women’s equality. She also ran a clinic working with children who suffered from learning difficulties. Due to her courageous work, Nima was imprisoned twice for a total of two years and suffered brutal torture.
After her release, Nima fled to Britain, but was unable to work as her qualifications from Iran were not recognised in the UK. She began an MA in Psychosocial Studies, funding it by taking a cleaning job an hour away from where she lived. Her health was already poor after her prison ordeal, and the physical demands of the job weakened Nima to the point of abandoning her studies. Our bursary grant allowed her to complete her course and find a job.
If you would like to support other courageous individuals like Ali and Nima, please, send a donation today.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.