Education Beyond Borders

Staff and student-led initiatives

Learn more about student groups and activities supporting displaced scholars and students.

Student Action for Refugees (STAR)

STAR is a student-run organisation that seeks to connect students with opportunities to campaign, fundraise and volunteer on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

Some key achievements by the University of Edinburgh STAR members include:

  • Raising £1300 by holding a vintage clothing sale
  • Holding a well-attended climate change talk which focussed on the impact of climate on refugee crises
  • Coordinating an evening of discussion about family reunification of refugees in the UK in collaboration with the Scottish Refugee Council. The discussion was part of the opening for "The Museum without a Home", an exhibition displaying real items donated by people in Greece to refugees and asylum seekers in 2015/16
  • Syrian Futures and STAR supported local Syrian refugees to put together an evening celebrating Syrian food and culture, Syrian Culture Night. The event raised £600 for the Edinburgh Children's Hospital.

Find out more about the University's STAR society

Find out more about the national STAR network

Syrian Futures Project

The Syrian Futures project (based at the University's Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World) supports Scottish Syrians to access Higher Education and Employment to achieve their full potential. They collaborate with other initiatives and projects within and beyond the University of Edinburgh to help create opportunities, engage Syrians within their local communities and help them make positive contributions to wider society.

Previous initiatives have included a Pre-Open Day (in collaboration with the Widening Participation team and STAR student group), Syrian Culture Night (in collaboration with STAR students), weekly online Community catch-up meetings and a befriending scheme, which aims to connect university students, especially Arabic learning students. Some of the students are matched with elderly, isolated refugee women who are struggling to attend English classes or to make friendships to keep them connected with the community.

Syrian Futures also offers free English classes for members of the Syrian refugee community (aged 18+). A volunteer English teacher runs classes for advanced and intermediate language levels. A new beginner’s class is in planning.

Visit the Syrian Futures website to learn more.

Chaplaincy

The University Chaplaincy offers 1-to-1 sessions and group support for students and staff from crisis areas via the Listening Service. Students and Staff can contact it directly or be referred to the service by Student Services, Counselling or their Schools.

The Chaplaincy also established the award-winning Syrian Teenagers Tutoring and Education Programme (STTEPS). This project involves students tutoring local Syrian teenage refugees in a variety of subjects. In addition to weekly tutoring sessions, the group organises Saturday fun trips and runs a Syrian teenage football team. The team managed to acquire 24 refurbished laptops for teenagers from the University project partner - Remakery, a social enterprise reuse and repair store in Edinburgh.

The Chaplaincy also organise vigils and conversations bringing people together and expressing support and solidarity to those in war and other forms of crisis, contribute to Refugee Week, network with the Iona Community’s Common Concern Network Migration, Refugees and Asylum, and are also part of the Ukraine Working Group.

Visit the Chaplaincy website to learn more about their current projects.

English Language education

Our English Language Education Team are involved in several projects to improve access to education for students as well as the wider community. 

Recent initiatives

Free English classes offered to displaced communities

Free English classes scheme

Sanctuary Film project

Sanctuary Film Project