Asylum seeker left with 'no hope' as university scholarship falls through

Amr Mohamed Ibrahim. <i>(Image: CONTRIBUTOR)</i>
Amr Mohamed Ibrahim. (Image: CONTRIBUTOR)

An asylum seeker has said he has "no hope" after he has been left unable to begin his course at a North East university that he was awarded a scholarship for.

Amr Mohamed Ibrahim, 29, was supposed to begin his MSc Mechanical Engineering course at Teesside University on Monday, September 25, for which he was given a full scholarship.

Amr came to the UK as an asylum seeker from Egypt in June 2022, residing in Liverpool until he was offered a place on the Teesside University course in June 2023.

Read more: Teesside University sets up London campus for students

The Northern Echo: Teesside University.
The Northern Echo: Teesside University.

Teesside University. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

However, due to issues with accommodation, he has been unable to relocate to Middlesbrough to begin the course and has more recently been uprooted to permanent accommodation in Bolton.

Now, Amr says the whole process has left him feeling "destroyed" as he faces uncertainty as to whether he will ever be able to begin the course.

He said: "My scholarship doesn't include accommodation, so once I had been offered accommodation I asked the Home Office to be relocated to Middlesbrough to begin the course.

"After two months of emails, my request was refused and they didn't say why, only that there was 'not enough grounds' for me to be moved to Middlesbrough.

"What could be stronger than me having a scholarship at a university that I will now lose?"

Amr explained that after he had completed his course he had planned to begin a career in the UK as an engineer.

He added: "I have the skills, I have the ability as I have a degree already and my skills have been wasted for fifteen months.

"Engineers are needed, and there are jobs in the market available. I'm here, I'm young and able.

"I don't want to be living off of financial support from the Home Office - I want to work, pay taxes and be immersed in society."

Due to further complications with his living situation, Amr has been moved to Bolton and forced to leave behind everything he has known in Liverpool.

The Northern Echo: Amr Mohamed Ibrahim.
The Northern Echo: Amr Mohamed Ibrahim.

Amr Mohamed Ibrahim. (Image: CONTRIBUTOR)

He explained: "I feel destroyed. I have now been moved out of Liverpool too, so even if I did not get the scholarship I had that life I had built there over fifteen months.

"I've been volunteering for more than five organisations, studying GCSE English and Maths even though I already have a Bachelor's degree.

"I have now had to leave that life in Liverpool and start from scratch again in a new city. I have no hope."

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald and Mayor Chris Cooke have since written a letter of support to the charity Migrant Help in a plea for the organisation to help Amr find accommodation.

It reads: "Amr is studying Mechanical Engineering and it is essential that we do all we can to encourage young people to be able to study and meet their own aspirations for their careers.

"We are particularly keen that people moving to this country for a better life for themselves can fulfil their career ambitions and if Amr is not found accommodation he will lose out on this amazing opportunity.

"We are very disappointed that the Migrant Democracy Project who have been advocating on Amr’s behalf have not received a response from Migrant Help as this is clearly a very urgent case.

"We would be most grateful for as reply as a matter of supreme urgency to this matter and for Amr to be found a property on Teesside as soon as possible to secure his academic future and to make sure this opportunity for advancement and education is not denied to a young man of real promise."

A spokesperson from Merseyside organisation Asylum Link, which has been assisting Amr on his journey, spoke of how a scholarship like his is akin to "winning the lottery".

They said: "Amr is one of the handful of Asylum Seekers sponsored to take up study in this country. Universities provide very limited places for this to happen, recognising the skills and drive many refugees bring with them when they arrive in the UK.

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"It’s the same odds as winning the lottery. All that is required is a change of address to make this happen, however, the Home Office, in time-honoured fashion says it’s not prepared to make any allowances."

Teesside University has confirmed they are aware of Amr's situation. A spokesperson said:  "The University awards a number of Sanctuary Scholarships to support student asylum seekers to access education.

"We are aware of this case and are working closely with all parties to resolve."