The University of Sussex have launched a scholarship that will provide postgraduate funding for two students a year from either Syria, Lebanon or Jordan. The scholarships will cover 20% of the students’ tuition fees, starting in September 2016.
A second scholarship will fund the full cost of postgraduate courses for two Palestinian students a year.
The University say they hope that candidates apply the skills and knowledge they acquire at Sussex back in their home countries.
Priority will be given to those who can demonstrate that their studies will benefit their field of work on return to the Middle East.
To be eligible, candidates must be under the age of 35 and applying to study for a one-year Masters degree (in any field) at the University of Sussex.
The scholarships are the result of the Students’ Union’s “extensive lobbying” of the University over the last year, according to Students’ Union President Abraham Baldry.
He said: “Students in Palestine and the wider Middle East currently face acute difficulties in circumstances of war and oppression. We are pleased and excited that the University is taking a proactive approach to providing them with opportunities beyond the undergraduate level.”
The schemes are backed by the Saïd Foundation who will pay the costs of travel, healthcare and visa fees for all four students, as well as providing a maintenance grant.
Founded in 1982, the Saïd Foundation partner with 26 UK Universities, providing postgraduate opportunities for Palestinian students in the West Bank and Gaza as well as students across the Middle East more generally.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Clare Mackie, said: “The University already does so much to help first-generation scholars and care leavers from the UK to get access to higher education and we are extremely pleased that we are able to extend this, through this new scholarship scheme, to young people from the Middle East.”
Sussex Student and Sussex Palestinian Society member, Roua Naboulsi said: “It is great that our university is finally acknowledging this denial of Palestinian rights and the Sussex Friends of Palestine Society look forward to an active year of lobbying the university to do more in aiding the Palestinian struggle against oppression.
“Palestinian students are often denied the right to education and face unthinkable challenges when attempting to attend their universities.
“It is incredibly important for us as students to use our position of privilege to end the complicity of our university and of the British government in the human rights abuses and the occupation of Palestine. Our society raises awareness of these injustices through events such as talks, film-screenings and stunts.”
The CEO of the Saїd Foundation, Neville McBain, said: “The Saїd Foundation has a long history of investing in the talents of young people and helping children to achieve their potential through education.
“The shared commitment to these ideals from the University of Sussex and its Students’ Union mean that we are able to help transform the lives of more people and their local communities.”
The University already offers HESPAL Scholarships, which provide Palestinian academics with an English Masters courses in subjects that the University believes will benefit their home institution .
The University recently opened the Middle East and North Africa Centre, which it says will “bring together Sussex’s wide range of expertise on the region and foster academic ties with the Middle East and North Africa.”