09 November 2023

Image: Shutterstock

The University of South Australia is partnering with 11 other universities around the nation, to help build pathways to higher education for refugees from around the world.

Led by the Australian National University (ANU), the Australian Refugee Welcome University Sponsorship Consortium (ARWUSC) is working to co-design a blueprint for a proposed new, ground-breaking, education-led pathway for refugee resettlement in Australia.

ANU Professor Bronwyn Parry, co-lead of ARWUSC with ANU Associate Professor of Migration and Education Dr Sally Baker, says the new consortium "marks an exciting new chapter in Australia's refugee resettlement story."

"ARWUSC aims to create life-changing resettlement and educational opportunities for hundreds of students who have been displaced by conflict in recent times, offering them the chance to re-start their educational journeys and to bring their skill and expertise to Australia.

"The consortium will represent the higher education sector and intends to work closely with the Federal Government and other key organisations in the not-for-profit and business sectors, including the Refugee Council of Australia, to explore ways to introduce global best practice models of refugee education into Australia.”

The ARWUSC consortium currently includes the University of South Australia, Charles Sturt University, Curtin University, Deakin University, Griffith University, the University of Canberra, the University of Melbourne, the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Tasmania and Victoria University.

Global displacement of people is at the highest level ever, with more than 32 million refugees around the world as of mid-2022. Only 6% of Australian refugee youths are enrolled in tertiary education.

University of South Australia Executive Dean: Justice and Society Professor Paula Geldens, says the initiative is a first in Australia.

“UniSA has always had a strong social mission and a deep commitment to our communities,” Prof Geldens says.

“We look forward to continuing our work as a member of the consortium to finalise the pathway, and welcoming students through this Australia-first initiative.

“Refugees come from backgrounds of trauma and poverty, and education holds the key to helping them build new lives and realise their potential. Many have had their educational journeys disrupted by conflict, others have not had the opportunity to pursue higher education, and for some, their qualifications are not fully recognised in Australia.

“Refugees and migrants have contributed enormously to Australian society, and this initiative will support the future impact of new refugees while helping them adjust to their new world.”  

The establishment of ARWUSC follows the Federal Government’s commitment to increase the annual Refugee and Humanitarian Program to 20,000 places in 2023-24, and to welcome an additional 10,000 refugees over time through complementary pathways.

As part of their work, the ARSWUC has been co-designing a blueprint for a proposed new refugee education pathway with the government.

Media contact for interviews: Megan Andrews mobile: +61 434 819 275  emailmegan.andrews@unisa.edu.au

Other articles you may be interested in