We've just completed research for UNU-Wider into the impact of educational achievement on the integration and wellbeing of Afghan refugee youth in the UK. Catherine, RSN's director, explains more:
Education is my freedom ... if I have my education, everything is still possible for me in the future.
Mohammed grinned, and looked down at his newly acquired university student card. He’d just enrolled for his first term at university as the beneficiary of a scholarship for asylum-seeking young people classed as international students and unable to pay fees or cover living expenses. At that moment, after years of struggle, the future was looking brighter.
Mohammed arrived in the UK from Afghanistan as an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child (UASC) aged 14, and, like all UASC in the UK, was looked after by a local authority until he turned 18. An unprecedented number of UASC have arrived in Europe over the last decade, and young Afghans make up the largest group of these children in the UK. Despite a wealth of UK policies aimed at ensuring positive outcomes for young people who have been through the care system, less is known about their experiences after they reach the age of eighteen. Research conducted by Refugee Support Network within a UNU-WIDER research project sheds new light on the important role of educational achievement in creating socioeconomic opportunities for young people like Mohammed, and highlights the problematic and pervasive influence of unresolved immigration status. The future, it suggests, may not be as bright as Mohammed hopes...