Increasing attention has been paid to the barriers to accessing higher education for people seeking asylum in Australia who arrived by boat. In recent years, a number of Australian universities have responded by offering ‘humanitarian scholarships’ to people in this situation. However, under-examined challenges exist related to gaining access to university, as well as the retention, participation and success of, and support for these current students in their studies.
On 15 November 2017, the National Symposium: Seeking Asylum and Higher Education was hosted by Melbourne Social Equity Institute. The symposium brought together 25 people with lived experience of seeking asylum and 40 representatives from Australian universities and community organisations to share experiences, concerns, existing good practice and ideas and hopes for future advocacy and practice.
The day was designed to listen to and learn from the lived experience of students seeking asylum. As well, participants learnt from each other the experiences of community organisations and universities that had already developed programs and interventions to support students seeking asylum with their education.
This report highlights some of the main advocacy priorities and suggestions raised by participants at the symposium and offers some next steps to take on this broad issue.