Tag Archive: degree

From fleeing conflict in Afghanistan to collecting a degree in Manchester

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GRADUATED: Gulwali Passarlay fled Afghanistan at the age of 12 on his own. This month he graduated from the University of Manchester

GRADUATED: Gulwali Passarlay fled Afghanistan at the age of 12 on his own. This month he graduated from the University of Manchester

An inspirational graduate

An inspirational refugee who travelled through eight countries to escape war-torn Afghanistan when he was just 12-years-old, has just graduated from The University of Manchester.

In 2006, Gulwali Passarlay was 12, and was about to be forced to either join the Taliban or the NATO-backed army.

Many members of his family, including his father, had been killed during the conflict, which also made Gulwali a target. His mother urged him to make his way to England, so he fled for his life with just the clothes on his back.

After being forced to endure an unimaginably difficult year of solitary hardship on the road, with hunger, illness, a terrifying 50-hour sea crossing in darkness and a motorway journey clinging to a hot engine inside a lorry, he eventually made it to the UK.

However, once on the British shores, his troubles were not over - penniless and speaking no English, he endured months of racism, loneliness and poverty.

Despite the huge difficulties he has faced, he has gone on to achieve remarkable success.

He taught himself English and enrolled at college, when his potential was spotted by the University’s Manchester Access Programme (MAP), which supports talented year 12 students.

Thanks to the staff’s support, he was able to achieve his required A-level grades to take a BA in Politics and Philosophy, and also received a scholarship funded by the Ross Warburton Charitable Trust.

While he has been a student, he has hosted his own TedX talk, has spoken at many schools about refugee rights, was on a Department for Education panel which scrutinizes how policy affects young people, and was the first Afghan ever to take part in the Olympic Torch Relay.

He is also on speaking terms with several politicians.

Since completing his studies, he has written for newspapers, and has released a book called ‘The Lightless Sky’, called ‘a gripping account of a life-threatening journey to freedom’ by one leading critic.

In what has been a hectic three years, Gulwali says he is delighted to have graduated.

“It has been an amazing yet challenging three years, but thanks to the help and support of University staff, I have managed to achieve my honour,” he said.

“I have no doubt that the knowledge, connections and friendships I have made whilst studying will stay with me for a long time. Thank you to Manchester for such a wonderful time of fulfilment and achievements.

“After graduation, I will continue to speak up for the voiceless and gave a human face to the statistics and numbers we hear from the media about refugees. I am determined to make sure justice is done and we welcome people who flee wars, conflicts and injustice with dignity and respect.”

Gulwali now hopes to go on to work with charities who are supporting and empowering refugees, and to work with UNHCR, using his experiences and studies to influence policy makers on their response to the refugee crisis.

Eventually, he says he would like to return to Afghanistan, and to play a part in rebuilding his country by working for peace and prosperity.

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BD3’s kids’ degrees: “Pupils receive honours from The Children’s University”

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PROUD STAFF: (L-R) Student Ambassador, Amreen Farook; Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Gwendolen Bradshaw; Children's University Manager, Thomas Whitford-Bartle; Recruitment and Outreach Manager, Katie Miller; and Student ambassador, Maria Treuman (Pic credit: Maqbool Ahmad)

PROUD STAFF: (L-R) Student Ambassador, Amreen Farook; Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Gwendolen Bradshaw; Children's University Manager, Thomas Whitford-Bartle; Recruitment and Outreach Manager, Katie Miller; and Student ambassador, Maria Treuman (Pic credit: Maqbool Ahmad)

Whilst most people have to wait until their early twenties to receive their university degrees, a group of mini graduates from Bradford have this month donned their caps and gowns to collect their latest honours.

As part of the national initiative – Children’s University (CU) – youngsters from Killinghall Primary were invited to The University of Bradford for a unique graduation ceremony on Tuesday 19th July.

After completing a number of hours of ‘out-of-school’ learning, over 100 children from the school earned the right to graduate.

HATS AWAY: Pupils were dressed in their own version of a graduation outfit, including hats and gowns (Pic credit: Maqbool Ahmad)

HATS AWAY: Pupils were dressed in their own version of a graduation outfit, including hats and gowns (Pic credit: Maqbool Ahmad)

Thomas Whitford-Bartle, Outreach Officer at the University of Bradford said: “The event was a big success last night and was thoroughly enjoyed by all who came along – including families and friends, graduates and the Killinghall Staff.”

Over 350 guests attended, including excited children, proud parents, guardians and family members, the Head Teacher and teaching staff from Killinghall Primary School.

An event which marked a significantly positive achievement by Killinghall Primary, it also proved that the school remains at the heart of the BD3 community, which over recent years has led positive community initiatives to create a positive community environment.      

Gill Edge, Head Teacher at Killinghall Primary School explained what the ceremony meant to the children and the school as a whole.

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“Often there are so many pressures from school and home that some children these days do not get these opportunities,” she said.

“We are so pleased that our children have excelled themselves, as we have one of the largest groups of children from any one school to graduate through the CU’s Scheme at Bradford University.”

She continued: “The children are given credits for attending sports training sessions, reading clubs, residential trips and many other activities.  This all goes to building their knowledge and understanding of themselves and the world and makes for a whole rounded person and a lifelong learner.

“We hope this graduation experience inspires our children to take up even further study as they move through life. It raises aspirations for their future, many of our children after leaving the graduation say they are going to go on to study to get a ‘proper’ degree.”

The Children’s University (CU) in the UK began as a Saturday school project in Birmingham in the early 1990s.

It was instigated by Professor Sir Tim Brighouse and Sir David Winkley, then Chief Education Officer and Head Teacher, and supported by the King Edward Foundation.
During the next decade a dozen or so, CU centres were started across England, Wales and Scotland, offering a variety of out-of-school hours learning experiences to children.

ACHIEVERS: The students graduated with flying colours (Pic credit: Maqbool Ahmad)

ACHIEVERS: The students graduated with flying colours (Pic credit: Maqbool Ahmad)

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Poor student drop-out risk ‘higher’

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university studentPoor university students are more likely to drop out and less likely to graduate with a good degree, even if they started their course with similar grades to their richer peers, according to research.

It suggests that those from deprived backgrounds may do less well in higher education because they did less well at school, and also that they may need more support while at university to make sure they leave with decent results.

The study, published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) analysed information on English students who began studying at a UK university between 2004/05 and 2009/10.

Researchers found that in general, students from the most disadvantaged homes are 8.4 percentage points more likely to drop out of university within two years of starting their course, compared to those from the most advantaged backgrounds.

They are also 13.3 percentage points less likely to complete their degree within five years, and 22.9 percentage points less likely to graduate with a first or 2:1.

There are still "significant" differences even when a student's own grades are taken into account, the study found.

Among students who began university with similar grades to take the same degree course, those from the poorest backgrounds are still 3.4 percentage points more likely to drop out of their studies than those from the richest homes.

And they are still 5.3 percentage points less likely to complete their degree and 3.7 percentage points less likely to achieve a first or 2:1.

The findings indicate that a key part of any measures to cut inequalities in the degree chances between the richest and the poorest students should be to "increase the attainment of those from the poorest families earlier in the school system," the study says.

It also argues that the fact that youngsters from deprived backgrounds do less well on average at university than their richer peers, even when they have similar prior attainment, suggests that poor students may need extra support at university to enable them to succeed.

Study author Claire Crawford said: "Our research highlights that there are large differences in university outcomes by socio-economic background, a substantial proportion of which can be explained by differences in attainment earlier in the education system.

"While improving the attainment of students from disadvantaged backgrounds at school is likely to aid their performance at university as well, we find non-negligible differences in university outcomes between students from different socio-economic backgrounds at the same university, studying the same subject, who arrived with the same grades.

"This suggests that universities may wish to focus on improving the progression and performance of students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as widening access."

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