20 young women from Afghanistan need your help to finish their medical studies.
We’re asking our supporters to write to your MPs and MSPs urging them to put pressure on the government to find a way through the obstacles preventing the students from coming to the UK.
Since the Taliban stopped women from attending university, we have been exploring ways to bring some of our sponsored students to Scotland to complete their studies. Some were just weeks away from graduating as doctors.
Agreement from medical schools
The five medical schools in Scotland have agreed to take 20 students between them, but their path here has reached a standstill.
Despite discussions with both the UK and Scottish Government, the Foundation is no closer to getting the women to Scotland.
We expected they would be able to come to Scotland through the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) and have waited patiently for the relevant part of the scheme to open up.
We were led to believe this would happen in August but are now being told not to expect it to open any time soon and are being encouraged to apply for student visas.
However, student visas are impractical as they would result in students having to pay overseas student fees of £50,000 a year – £1million pounds a year for the 20 students, not including any living costs. We simply cannot afford that as a tiny charity.
The UK Government suggested we ask the Scottish Government to waive the student fees. The Scottish Government say the UK Government need to grant the students refugee status to enable them to waive the fees.
Everybody is sympathetic but nobody seems to be able to get the system to work to help the students. We are now at a complete standstill.
These are 20 of the brightest young women in Afghanistan who have cruelly had their futures stolen, facing a life of cooking and cleaning or being married against their will.
How you can help
These women need our support. Contact your MP or MSP to urge the government to help the students secure refugee status. Use the information on this page as the basis for your letter.
- Write to your MP. Click here to check who your MP is.
- If you live in Scotland, write to your MSP as well as your MP. Click here to find your MSP by postcode.
- Share this information with friends and colleagues and encourage them to write too.
- Contact anybody you think might be able to bring pressure on those in power.
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share updates and encourage others to share them.
- Share any response you get with us.
It won’t take much of your time. But it could be life-changing for 20 Afghan women.
Please help us to help them.
Frustrated with delays
John Norgrove explains the frustration of the Foundation and the despair of the students: “We’re becoming really frustrated with all the delays. We were initially told the relevant pathway in the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme would open in January. And then we were told August – and it’s now being suggested it won’t open any time soon.
“Our students have gone from being trainee doctors to facing a closed existence, consigned to cooking, cleaning and looking after children. They aren’t allowed to leave the house without a male chaperone, some fear for their lives and others are likely to be married off against their will. They are in utter despair and desperately need our help.”
We were sponsoring more than 100 medical students. More than 70 have said they are interested in coming to the UK to complete their studies.
We are running a sifting process that assesses their grades, standard of English and how close they were to completing their degree. This will determine which students should be offered the chance to attend medical school in Scotland.
Image at top of page shows some of the students the Foundation has sponsored.