The Cambridge Refugee Scholarship Campaign (CRSC) was founded by students in October 2017 in response to the devastating impact that the ongoing refugee crisis has had on the education of refugees. CRSC hopes to implement a sustainable system of scholarships for refugees and other individuals affected by political and/or humanitarian crises to study at the University of Cambridge.
The Cambridge Refugee Scholarship Campaign (CRSC) believes that the scholarships will provide much-needed opportunities and open new doors to those whose education have been interrupted by political and/or humanitarian reasons. We hope that these scholarships would empower the future leaders of many conflict-ridden nations and help build the foundation for lasting peace and justice around the world.
CRSC initially campaigned for a scholarship system to be funded by opt-out donations on student college bills. Our rationale for choosing this model was that the same donation scheme was pursued at the University of Oxford by the Oxford Students Refugee Scholarship Campaign (OxSRC). As a new campaign, CRSC recognised the need to learn from successful campaigns, especially one that succeeded in a university that shares strong structural similarities with Cambridge. We also believe the opt-out donation scheme would enable the entire student community at Cambridge to respond to the ongoing refugee crisis, and demonstrate that the students at Cambridge stand in solidarity with individuals whose education have been interrupted by reasons well beyond their control. During this time, we managed to pass motions at the J/MCRs of four colleges (Newnham, Peterhouse, King’s and Emmanuel) to support this scheme and worked closely with several others (including Gonville & Caius, Trinity and Sidney Sussex) to pass the motion in Lent 2018.
However, during the course of our campaign we were notified by college staff on uncertainties surrounding the legality of opt-out donations. This surprised us because the opt-out donation had numerous precedents in Oxford and Cambridge. As a result, we contacted a number of individuals with the relevant legal expertise for guidance on the matter. The consensus was that the strength of the legal grounds for an opt-out donation scheme is uncertain. After further discussions, we arrived at the conclusion that we will need to adopt a different funding model because the legal uncertainties surrounding the opt-out donation could potentially compromise the sustainability of refugee scholarships. We decided to lobby the university directly to provide scholarships and, since then, are in a close working relationship with them.