Student tutors help refugees find their feet

Edinburgh student tutors are helping young Syrian refugees settle into new lives in the city.

More than 20 students from Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and the University’s Islamic Society have held weekly sessions with Syrian teenagers in the past year.  

The Teenage Syrian Refugee Tutoring Project, which has been organised by the University’s Chaplaincy, supports 22 young people.  

Sessions include language-lessons, tuition on specific subjects, outings and games.


In this short film student tutors and Syrian teenagers discuss the benefits of the project. 

Access to education

The teenagers come from refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Many of them have had no access to education for many years.

Through meeting the students, the teenagers have built up their English language skills, gained confidence and improved their marks in school.

The project’s co-founder and Syrian coordinator, Amer Masri, a post-doctoral researcher at the University, meets the teenagers to reflect on their time with the students.

I was a refugee. In Syria I was imprisoned and tortured by the regime. When I came to Scotland in 2011, the University helped me a lot. I’ve always felt grateful and I wanted to help other Syrian refugees in Edinburgh. No words are enough to thank the University for facilitating the initiative. I feel proud that we have been able to do something that benefits these teenagers.

Dr Amer MasriCo-founder, Teenage Syrian Refugee Tutoring Project

Amer hopes the tutoring can continue for the duration of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) global resettlement programme, due to end in 2020.

Fresh Start

Many of the teenagers have suffered the loss of family members and experienced traumatic events. After arriving in a new country and experiencing unfamiliar culture they often face language barriers and isolation.

The tutoring project helps the teenagers adapt to life in Edinburgh, develop skills, make new friends and interact with students from a wide range of backgrounds.

There are language lessons available for refugee groups such as adults, and parent and toddler groups but we saw fewer options for teenagers so we felt we had to do something. The teenagers were in need of friendship and community and I think we have been able to offer that.

Reverend Ali NewellAssociate Chaplain, the University of Edinburgh

Related links


Refugee Advisory Service

Syrian Postgraduate Scholarships

The UN Refugee Agency