STAR – UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER

We are a group of Westminster Students working in partnership with STAR. Student Action for Refugees (STAR) is a national student-run organisation that aims to raise awareness of refugee issues and promote integration of refugees and asylum seekers into society. STAR has attracted over 27,000 students around United Kingdom and it is amazing that we now have a society at our very own university. At Westminster, STAR is a new society which is looking for volunteers, activists and student leaders to take over the student group. We will be campaigning to ensure that people in the UK seeking refugee protection have equal access to higher education and can join us at university as equals.

Our student activists and our Students’ Union at Westminster are in a unique position to affect this change. Please follow us on Facebook(Link below) if you would like to be a part of this great project. Many Universities in the UK already offer scholarships, bursaries, fee waivers and
reduced fees to help people who have claimed asylum in the UK access higher education. We aim to fundraise, learn and spread as much awareness as possible. Due to the sensitivity of this issue especially during current times and the intensity of this situation, it is our duty as students considering what we are studying to be on the front-line to support refugees.

At our first meeting, we were joined by Emma Williams, who is the Chief Executive at STAR. She presented all our members with various facts and figures and further explained the main goals of the organization. She also gave as an overview of the situation that refugees globally
are facing today.

As STAR Westminster, we have discussed the urgent necessity to set up a well-organized team inside the university in order to contribute as much as possible to the charity and its goals. We settled up our group, starting with committee members, in order to divide the tasks equally
though it is our collective duty to stay involved and do our best. We had a debate around various themes, from the refugee crisis to the role of states and other actors in dealing with this crisis. Over the course of time we have identified a series of goals that we would like to achieve by the end
of this semester.

We want to organize a fundraising event inside our university. We believe that the
organization of a charity concert inside the university may be a good opportunity to attract students, spread awareness on the refugee situation today and get an economic support from the donations and fundraising, which is a practical way to contribute fundamentally to their material needs.

We will promote this through the screening of the movie “Refugees diaries” in order to
spread more awareness through visual means on what does it mean to be a refugee, what is their legal status, how are they protected by our governments, and why we need to push our governments to do more to help this people.

We are convinced that the right-wing nationalist rhetoric in relation to refugees can be faced just through knowledge, and that is why we believe it will be a good occasion for students to learn more about that, to get involved in the STAR group. As we are in partnership with Ben and Jerry's ice cream, we will be offer free ice-creams for all the participants during the screening of the movie.

We have many ideas and we all want to do our part in this process. However, we need people to stand up, defend refugees and support them in a concrete way. Fund raising is also an important factor for raising money for the charity and signing petitions in order to demand scholarships from various universities. This will specially be an important action for young refugees who wish to seek university education and hopefully this will allow them to start a
new phase of their life.

In order to receive further updates, please follow us on Facebook-
https://www.facebook.com/WestminsterSTAR/ (Student Action for Refugees - STAR Westminster).


OutReach

OutReach: The creation of an international cultural, economic and socio-political network of discussion and exchange between IR students from the University of Westminster and International Universities worldwide. 

Purpose


After having researched attentively for the possibility of making a difference with our work and studies in an international environment that does not reflect our ideas about equality, freedom and tolerance, we have seen a concrete and worthwhile chance of doing good through extending and promoting the work of our teachers Farhang Morady, Ricardo Blaug and Thomas Moore from the Department of Politics and International Relations of the University of Westminster. Our project originates from an ongoing project conceived and forged ahead by our teachers within the Democratic Educational Network (DEN) that consists in creating bridges between the University of Westminster and International Universities Such as HANU (Dai Hoc Hanoi) in Vietnam. The objective of the project is of giving DPIR students of both of the universities the chance of studying together, sharing ideas and discussing about common, national, regional and international issues in a network promoting values such as equality, freedom of speech and tolerance. Our aim is to extend the project to a greater number of countries, to raise the interest of a greater number of students of developing and developed countries and to give them chance to have access to new, equal, globalized, and non-exclusive or privileged means of education at the lowest cost possible for the students and their families.

Aims

  1. Developing a network of communication between the staff / students of the University of Westminster and a number of universities in different countries of the world.
  2. Extending the coverage of the network to a greater number of Universities in different countries and regions.
  3. Organising meetings between teachers representatives of the University of Westminster and students of the International Universities
  4. Inviting teachers and representatives of the International Universities to our University for events, conferences and lectures as guest lecturers
  5. Creating a network of communication between DPIR students of the universities involved in the project and inviting them to research, analyse and investigate issues together
  6. Promoting a deeper investigation of the history, geography, economic, social and political conditions and international relations that characterize a specific country or region of interest
  7. Providing the adequate material for research for all the students participating to the project (i.e. paper books, access to e-book libraries and international papers and journals)
  8. Obtaining financing through international organisations (i.e. Distant Horizons), fundraising and donations
  9. Organising field trips, or cultural exchanges, between the DPIR students of the University of Westminster and the DPIR students of the International Universities
  10. Limiting the costs of the journey for the families and students by giving the chance of hosting and being hosted at home when possible.

In order to effectively achieve these aims we have used SWOT analysis

Strengths  

  • To give the chance to final year undergraduate DPIR students and graduate students of the University of Westminster to engage in an exciting international and political working experience
  • Developing DPIR students leadership skills, decision making and management
  • Developing rhetorical and oratorical skills as part of the preparation for the role of international ambassador
  • Developing strong universal knowledge of particular countries and regions as part of the preparation for the role of international ambassador
  • Building a new, young, free and politically aware international community of learners and researchers
  • The project, thanks to the efforts of all the entities that patriciate and give their support (e.g. Universities, International Organisations, teachers, students, families, etc.) provides students with the chance of studying international issues in loco
  • The project creates solid opportunities of contact and future collaboration between young professionals
  • The project is also a platform within which students can develop long lasting interpersonal relations that can influence the way they perceive the far and the foreign
  • University teachers and staff participating to the project would also have the opportunity to travel in foreign countries and to lecture besides teachers of foreign universities, to create networks of collaboration and research


Opportunities

  • To create an exciting new module for the university that would arouse the interest of potential new students and give prestige to the university
  • To carry out a positive political message of equality, freedom, tolerance, togetherness and collaboration
  • To inspire young Politics, Development and IR students to engage positively with their knowledge, to feel and become international, and to work for the benefit of all countries
  • To contrast the raise of nationalism, protectionism, and any cultural and religious barriers to international cooperation creating bridges between countries and people
  • To promote the project through social media, blogposts, international conferences and through the publication of papers
  • To ameliorate the studying opportunities and educational means for students from developing countries
  • To create working and internship opportunities for students from the University of Westminster studying not just Politics and IR, but also International Law, IT, Business, Marketing, Management etc.
  • To create a business that has the potential to be stable, profitable and ethically positive for the people who work, those who study and those who sustain the project
  • To carry a political message of positive globalisation and cooperation and to have the voice and the means to express it through concrete work for the benefit of all countries
  • To simply do good


Weakness

  • Requires a consistent amount of effort, time and commitment both from the students and teachers participating
  • Lack of resources: it might be difficult to obtain the funds and staff to do the research
  • Students’ engagement – not guaranteed


Threat

  • Loss of competitive edge in a difficult market environment
  • Lack of support from both schools and the University
  • Bureaucratic barriers within the University of Westminster and abroad
  • Available funds – not guaranteed


A leading researcher would work with 6-8 students (having the role of ambassadors for the project), 4-6 students (having the role of legal and business consultants), 2-4 students (having the role of IT and Marketing consultants).
 

Stage 1
Divided in groups, they research on general and specific aspects of a number of countries of interest and the regional and international dynamics that concern that specific country
They demonstrate their knowledge of the field of interest through the production of reports, blog posts etc.
Specific data will have to be processed in order to identify:

Possible partner-Universities
students backgrounds and communities
possible legal difficulties and obstacles to the creation of contacts.


Stage 2
They identify contacts in the possible partner-Universities who could be interested into creating a contacts between the universities
They arrange meeting with the head of the DPIR and/or other teachers and representatives in the possible partner-Universities and discuss about the feasibility of the project
They eventually arrange a meeting with the students of the partner-Universities and to give an introductory speech about the project
They invite the head of the DPIR and/or other representatives of the possible partner-Universities to visit the University of Westminster and give introductory speeches to the students about their country and University
 

Stage 3
They research for possible financing organisations that would have an interest in promoting the messages of the project
They meet the representatives of the international organisations and discuss the terms and limits of cooperation
 

Stage 4
They create a promotional campaign in order to inform the students of the Universities about the various aspects and opportunities of the project
They create an application available on the website of the Universities


 
 

Words Heal the World

On the first session of the exciting series DEN meetings that would be held this year we were presented with a vibrant range of projects that would be a part of DEN. One such projects is called Words Heal the World. It was presented by a student of University of Westminster ‎Beatriz Buarque ,who is studying in the Department of Politics and International Relations. Beatriz presented her project with a lot of passion encouraging other students to be a part of it. Here’s what she had to say to us-

“Recently, many extremist groups have been using the Internet for recruitment/incite attacks all over the world. Despite global efforts to identify and eliminate violent content on the Internet, they keep appearing on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. On the other hand, we have many organizations that have been using words to fight extremism, but few people know their work. Therefore, I developed the digital platform Words Heal the World to increase the visibility of these institutions and deconstruct extremist messages. I invite you to visit our website to know how it works: www.wordshealtheworld.com

HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO IT?
The students who join me will attend events held by these institutions and write stories/make videos about it in a creative way so as to catch the attention of young people. We'll share these content on the website, our Facebook page, Twitter and on our YouTube account that has been recently created. Students will also be encouraged to attend academic events / events held by security institutions regarding radicalization/extremism – there are really many things happening here in London in this sense!
To sum up, we'll use our creativity through words and images to show the world what has been done, what people have been discussing to prevent radicalization/extremism.

HOW WILL IT BE IMPORTANT TO YOU?

  1. You'll be part of a project that really intends to make a difference in our world. Some governments have encouraged civil society to come up with ideas to tackle extremism. Tech companies are trying to do their best and we can help because we have the freshness of youth. We use social media channels all the time. Let's use it to spread peace!
  2. Every content produced/edited by each of you will be credited. So, you can use it as portfolio.
  3. I am a journalist with 10 years of experience in the newsroom. Therefore, I can help you finding the best way to write, finding a story that will be interesting and so on.”


Inside Westminster would soon be joining hands with Beatriz to work on her project together. Beatriz and Inside Westminster share several common beliefs and ideas when it comes to empowering the youth and giving them a chance to write about issues that matter to them. Inside Westminster as a team is thrilled to be joining hands with Beatriz to help her work on her project.

We request all the students to come join our team to make a difference. Let’s to do our bit and make this world a better place to live in.


The Horn of Africa

Mentoring Project is a ‘Three Generation Mentoring’ project. The project allows professionals and academics from the Horn of Africa; Somalis, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Djiboutian, Sudanese and South Sudanese, as well as those who are familiar with the region to mentor University of Westminster’s students from the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), who will in return mentor secondary school students. This project arose out of the difficulties that many young people from the region face; which is a network of family and friends who don’t know and understand the education and employment routes in the UK. Many families are often unable to help and guide them and/or provide opportunities for ‘networking’, support, internships and volunteering to enhance their prospects to compete for higher education and job opportunities.