Refugee Scholarships Appeal 2023

Support our refugee scholars.

A gift of support and welcome

As we start the academic year, we say haere mai and welcome to our scholars from refugee backgrounds.

It is a sad fact that only 6% of refugees have access to higher education. This is far below the global average among non-refugees, which stands at more than 40%.

We all know what it feels like to be welcomed, to feel supported and to feel certain of your place. Today you can help ensure students feel the same welcome and have the same opportunities regardless of circumstance.

Your gift today will provide certainty for a Refugee Scholar, welcoming them to take their place as a student at the University of Auckland.

Nancy's story

Nancy is one of our refugee scholars, starting her studies at the University of Auckland thanks to the generosity of donors like you.

After the 1995 genocide in Rwanda, Nancy’s parents fled to Malawi as refugees. Her two older sisters were born in the refugee camp. Like many displaced people living in neighbouring countries, the family ended up living in Malawi for 11 years.

A chance came to join an uncle under the refugee family reunification programme and the family moved to New Zealand to create a new life for themselves. Nancy was just a young child.

"I was only two years old so I don’t remember but it must have been a huge culture shock for my parents coming to Wellington, New Zealand. I know it was hard for my parents relocating without resources and having to learn everything new.

Growing up I didn’t feel it. I was just an ordinary Kiwi kid thinking about when the bell would ring for lunchtime so I could go out and play ball tag and eat my lunch. But the reality is I worked from age 16 and I remember in my final year of school, one of my friends mentioned her parents gave her petrol money. It was unthinkable for me to ask my parents for petrol money. My part-time job allowed me to get my licence, my car and of course petrol to get to sports games and school activities."

Nancy had worked hard academically through school and as a leader in her school community, but she had to do more than this to realise her dreams of going to university.

"I felt from a young age that my parents would provide a warm bed and food on the table but anything extra I wanted or needed I had to work for. So, I would do Sunday and Monday nights at New World. And to be honest by the end of my five-hour shift on Monday after a full day of school I was exhausted."

The Refugee Scholarships are entirely funded through donations from people like you. Without your support, there is often no other way for students from a refugee background to cover the costs associated with a university education. You can reach out your hand and give a refugee scholar that feeling of certainty of place today. 

With her academic and extracurricular achievements, Nancy is surely the kind of student we want to attract to the University of Auckland. 

But in leaving home, she says student loans were hanging over her like negative signs.

Nancy is a determined young lady. She spent time searching for the financial support she would need, including available scholarships on the University of Auckland website.

"The hardest part of the application process was getting referees. I approached my science teacher as he knew my background and circumstances. Thankfully he was so willing to help and always said yes to every request I made."

This is where you come in. You could be that helping hand. Giving a scholar from a refugee background confidence that they are welcome here and will belong. 

"When I got the scholarship and acceptance into university accommodation it gave me the confidence that this could be something I could do. Suddenly the signs were all positive and welcoming."

You and I may not be able to change the events creating the circumstances for refugees around the world. But you can respond to some degree by ensuring that we provide a community that welcomes all those who join us, seeing diversity as a strength. 

Last year friends like you were able to give eight deserving students a scholarship. The median gift towards these scholarships is just under $100 and the scholarships are $5,000 each, so you can see every gift helps and can provide that deciding factor for a student today. 

You can be part of this. A gift no matter the amount is the surest way to say, “I acknowledge you, I see your journey, I applaud your hard work and I support you.”