Ten new three-year university scholarships will go to Syrian refugees coming to New South Wales, offering hope of a more positive future in a welcoming new homeland.
Recipients of the University of Technology Sydney scholarships will also receive legal assistance, representation and support in their resettlement, provided by supervised UTS law student volunteers.
The students, all participants in UTS Law's Brennan Justice and Leadership Program, are keen to help the scholarship recipients make the transition to Australia easier and counter the distress and confusion experienced by people forced to flee to a strange land.
UTS has a long track record in offering education and scholarship opportunities to refugees, being one of the first Australian universities in 2003 to offer scholarships to refugees on temporary protection visas.
UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said provision of the scholarships was an expression of the UTS community's commitment to social justice and ensuring even the most disadvantaged with a thirst for knowledge and aspirations to achieve aren't denied opportunities to learn.
"By providing higher education for those fleeing Syria we hope to help create a new beginning- through learning and discovery, and employment," Professor Brungs said.
"UTS has been a trailblazer in offering support and education to refugees and we have seen our earlier gestures of support bear rich fruit through the success of those who have graduated and gone on to remarkable careers with great personal success while making significant contributions to Australia.
"We are proud to again, along with other universities, government bodies and some industries, to offer hope to those who have left everything behind."
UTS graduate Abdul Hekmat, who fled Afghanistan more than a decade ago, was among the first refugees in 2003 to receive a UTS scholarship. He said at the time that he fled to Australia to preserve his life but also to seek knowledge – to "become an educated person".
He gained permanent residency in 2004 and in 2007 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Social Inquiry), going on to complete an honours program in which he explored the issues impacting refugee settlement.
More recently Abdul has exhibited his photographic work, become a freelance writer and a media commentator on key social issues, positively shaping Australian society.
"Abdul is an example the benefits of UTS's investment in his learning and development," Professor Brungs said. "The potential of people, even the most seemingly desperate and without hope or means, must never be underestimated and must never be allowed to simply wither and die."