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Kingston University pilots new initiative to support Ukrainian refugees to develop academic and professional-level English language skills

Posted Monday 10 July 2023

Kingston University pilots new initiative to support Ukrainian refugees to develop academic and professional-level English language skills

Kingston University has launched a new scheme in partnership with Kingston Council that provides comprehensive English language skills to Ukrainian refugees in the area.

The initiative, which is part of the Kingston Language Scheme (KLS), offered refugees under the Government's Homes for Ukraine scheme the opportunity to improve their English during a free 10 week language course.

Group picture Kingston Council with Alison  Alison Baverstock and Gabrielle Smallbone(Kingston UniversityFrom left to right: Jessie Shepherd (RBK: Resettlement & Integration Officer), Prof. Alison Baverstock (Kingston University), Gabrielle Smallbone(Kingston University), Thomas Marsh (RBK: Kingston United for Ukraine Integration Officer), Holly Ashworth (RBK: KUU Arrivals and Queries Lead)Organised by Kingston Language Scheme module leader Gabrielle Smallbone and Professor of Publishing Alison Baverstock, eight Ukrainian students have completed the programme earlier this year. Working with Kingston Council, Kingston Language Scheme is hoping to extend the project to support other refugee groups, allowing anybody who has been displaced or been resettled in Kingston to develop their English language skills.

The classes, which are also offered to Kingston University's international students on an optional basis, are designed to equip students with the English language skills they need to successfully study at a UK university, as well as teaching them how to communicate in different professional settings.

"When individuals resettle in the UK, they receive English language provision through the Government that teaches them basic English language skills. However, if they want to carry on into higher education, they have to demonstrate they meet the required standard of English language and communication skills for academic study which is what courses such as these can provide," Ms Smallbone explained.

"After receiving a number of emails from refugees who had just resettled in the UK, but were not able to afford the course, it felt only right to look at what we could do to support them," Ms Smallbone added. Kingston Council helped identify Ukrainian students in the area who could benefit from the programme, ranging from young people whose education had been interrupted and were seeking to progress to higher education, to highly skilled professionals who wanted to develop their professional language skills.

"Refugees face a whole host of challenges and barriers when resettling into a new country," Professor Baverstock said. "We wanted to play our part in helping them with their transition into life in the UK by removing the language barrier they face in accessing higher education and continuing their career development."  

Apart from language courses , there is also work underway to explore the possibility of partnering with English language test providers to enable refugees to sit exams such as the International English Language Testing System for free, which is needed to apply for higher education courses.  

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