University of Sussex launches fundraising appeal for Afghan students

The money raised will enable 12 students from Afghanistan to access financial assistance and other support

The University of Sussex has launched a fundraising appeal to help support 12 arriving Afghanistan students.

The new and returning Afghan students are beginning their studies this week. Five have already arrived at the university’s Falmer campus, four are in bridging hotels – set up to house evacuees who have completed quarantine – across the UK, and three are currently still overseas. Nine of the students are Chevening scholars.

The Afghan Appeal has been launched this week via the university’s existing Sussex Fund, which provides hardship bursaries, scholarships, and other opportunities to students in need. The Sussex Fund has received over £500,000 from alumni, staff and friends over the past two years, and saw a significant increase in demand from students during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Afghan Appeal funds will be used to provide services to Afghan students such as specialist counselling and mental health support to cope with the trauma and separation from loved ones as well as hardship bursaries and assistance in purchasing warm clothing and household goods.

We have all cried for things we have lost – for first love, for financial losses – but the cry for losing your country is something you can never forget – Naimat Zafary

“These students are arriving at Sussex under very different conditions to those they had planned for; and we know from experience that refugees and people displaced or cut off from their home country can have diverse and complex needs,” said Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex.

“I hope that we will see a really positive response to our appeal and urge everyone to donate what they can afford to the Sussex Fund to help these students in providing for their immediate and most urgent needs as they try to rebuild their lives.

“The generous support of donors will help to give these scholars the best possible start at Sussex. Every pound donated will send a clear message that we stand with them during this incredibly difficult time.”

Among the new arrivals from Afghanistan is 35-year-old MA student Naimat Zafary who, with his family and fellow Chevening scholars, managed to flee the Taliban from Kabul airport on 24 August.

“We have all cried for things we have lost – for first love, for financial losses – but the cry for losing your country is something you can never forget,” he told the university website.

The Chevening Scholarships bring international students with leadership qualities to UK universities to study year-long masters degrees. On 16 August, the co-chairs of the all-party parliamentary group for international students urged the prime minister to “secure safe passage” for 35 Chevening Scholars in Afghanistan, after it was reported the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) had told them to delay their studies because they could not process their visas in time.

In June 2020, the University of Sussex was one of only 15 UK universities to be recognised as a University of Sanctuary by the charity City of Sanctuary UK – the award recognises universities who welcome people seeking sanctuary “through facilitated access to higher education (HE), supporting local refugee communities, and taking an active role in learning about the issues and obstacles faced by this group in pursuing HE”.

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