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Birkbeck endorses United Nations Global Refugees pledge

Birkbeck has signed the United Nations Global Refugees pledge, timely marking this year’s World Access to Higher Education Day.

Birkbeck has stated its commitment to delivering on the promise of the Global Compact for Refugees, including working towards a goal where 15% of the world’s refugees have access to Higher Education by 2030. Currently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that just 3% of refugees have access to these vital opportunities. 

Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, commented: “At Birkbeck, we have a proud tradition of changing lives through university study. Signing this pledge demonstrates our ongoing commitment to improving access to Higher Education for refugees and we are continuing to work hard to help break down barriers to higher education.”

In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed the Global Compact on Refugees, a framework and blueprint for governments, international organizations and other stakeholders to ensure that host communities get the support they need and that refugees can lead productive lives. Stakeholders are being encouraged to pledge their commitment towards its goals, and the pledge, coordinated by Student Action for Refugees and City of Sanctuary, will be submitted to the first Global Refugee Forum in December 2019, established to monitor and uphold the commitments of the Global Compact. 

Birkbeck has a strong commitment to breaking down barriers for under-represented communities. This year, Birkbeck celebrated two years of The Compass Project, which reaches out to help refugees and asylum seeking communities access educational opportunities in the UK. Since the start of the project, nearly 60 asylum seekers and over 100 refugees have enrolled onto courses at Birkbeck, and there are plans to extend the work further. Birkbeck also runs a series of workshops and events that provide people in refugee and asylum seeking communities with the knowledge and skills to start their academic journey. Additionally, in October this year, Birkbeck signed the Fair Chance for Students with Convictions pledge, giving those with past criminal convictions access to higher education.

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