CARA is supporting those stranded in UK unable to return to Syria. With funding cut off and loss of contact with loved ones, or worse, loved ones killed in the conflict. Their immediate future lies in the hands of others. CARA welcomes the concessions by the UKBA and the positive steps taken by many UK universities. All are being supportive.
CARA is also helping a growing number of academics still in Syria whose safety we are extremely concerned about, as well as those who have been forced to seek safety and shelter in neighbouring countries. These are amongst those in greatest need, facing uncertain futures. Kidnappings are also on the increase, with academics targeted due to their perceived wealth or university affiliation. In the words or a young female academic at the University of Kalahoon: “I feel vulnerable for many reasons, but mostly due to the kidnapping of lecturers by armed groups. Three of my colleagues were kidnapped for ransom, one of them Dr Hussain Al Fahil, Dean of the Business Faculty. I watched helplessly as he was kidnapped in the middle of the university’s central parking lot. …The brazen nature of these daily incidents terrifies and haunts me.” Both the Universities of Aleppo and Damascus have been bombed. CARA fears a repeat of the targeted campaign of assassination against Iraq’s academics, which has left over 400 dead and many more still in exile. Amongst those who have sought safety in rural areas, the daily journey to their university is fraught with danger, with multiple check points and snipers who “‘pick them off” as they travel along Syria’s increasingly notorious roads.
The Appeal Funds will be used during this period of uncertainty
CARA continues to raise awareness of the plight of Syrian academics and to lobby key players, as well as developing a number of complementary initiatives to help support a greater number in the region. CARA’s work is only limited by its resources.
Eligibility Only those who hold, or until recently held, a paid post as a lecturer and/or a researcher in a higher education institution or equivalent are eligible for CARA support. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request an enquiry form. The Fellowship Scheme is delivered in partnership with the CARA Scholars at Risk UK Universities Network, 92 UK universities collaborating to promote and defend academic freedom and provide practical support to academics in need.
Although CARA is unable to support students who do not meet the above eligibility criteria, Universities UK (UUK) and a group of concerned organisations with a wider student remit are lobbying the UK Government and UKBA on behalf of Syrian students stranded in the UK whose Syrian funding has been cut off or blocked.
1. British Council has clarified that it is only able to support those who are sponsored under the Syrian Higher Education Capacity Building fund as administered by the British Council (BC-SHECB) with £2,000 for the first three months to be repeated on a rolling basis subject to any change in circumstances. The British Council is not however able to assist those sponsored under the Syrian Higher Education Capacity Building fund but not administered via the British Council (SHECB). Your application has to be supported by your UK university.
2. Self-funded If you are self-funded you should still be able to access transferred funds. Where international banks are refusing to accept payments due to in-house policies, the Treasury have put measures in place to licence individuals to receive sums under a certain threshold.
3. UKBA From 28 February 2013, the temporary concession for Syrian nationals will be renewed for a further year, until 28 February 2014. Syrian nationals with temporary permission to stay in the UK will continue to have more ways to extend their stay in the UK. If you are a Syrian national and your permission to stay in the UK (leave to remain) is about to expire, or has expired in the last 28 days, and you wish to stay in the UK there are now some new options available to you.
i. Extend your visa If you are here on a visa for a limited period you can ask for this to be extended for the same length of time as you were originally granted. For example, if you have a 6-month visit visa, you may be given permission to stay for a further 6 months.
ii. Switch into a different visa category in the UK Normally you would be required to leave the UK to switch to another visa category. Under this concession you may apply to switch from inside the UK. There are restrictions on which categories you can apply to switch into. You cannot switch into any settlement routes.
You must apply whilst your current visa is valid or within 28 days of it expiring and pay the correct fee applicable for that route. You must also meet the requirements of the category that you are applying under. If there are any documents which you would normally be expected to provide, but you cannot because of the conflict in Syria, then you should explain why in your application. Syrian nationals are also advised to monitor the travel advice for Syria, and make arrangements to return, only when it is safe to do so.
Details of the concession and exceptions can be found in the staff guidance and in the written ministerial statement on the Home Office website.