Caroline Starkey (University of Leeds) and Fidelis Chebe (Migrant Action)
Between October 2021 and April 2022, Migrant Action will be partnering with a group of University of Leeds BA Liberal Arts students to undertake a research project exploring the impact of covid-19 on international students at the University of Leeds. Our BA Liberal Arts degree is an exciting and flexible degree programme, where students choose to ‘major’ in one of six subjects (English, History, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Politics or Sociology) but also take a number of other courses from across different disciplines. Students from the second year of the degree programme will be partnering with Migrant Action on this new and innovative research project as part of a core module that engages students with external partners, and supports them to undertake impactful research activities with a specific focus.
We know that Covid-19 exposed the structural vulnerabilities and inequalities in our society and disproportionately impacted particular groups of people, including at our University. International students, from undergraduate to PhD level, have been significantly affected by the restrictions operational in society, and at the University. Many of them may have moved to the UK just as the country was locking down, and they might be living in an unfamiliar area, with few support networks.
Due to the nature of online teaching, many international students (like home students) will not have met their lecturers or peers and might have increased struggles to access materials and academic support, as well as be uncertain about how to engage with wellbeing and mental health support, being far away from home and loved ones. In response to this, our project sets out to investigate the experiences of international students studying in the University of Leeds, and to raise awareness (both in the University and beyond) of the issues that they have faced (and continue to face) as the world struggles to manage the covid-19 pandemic.
In this project, students will be supported to conduct empirical research with UoL international students, and will be working closely together with Migrant Action and academic supervisors to guide the research. Although the outcomes of the project will be student-led, we are hoping that our Liberal Arts students will be able to present the results of the research in a creative way, in either film or podcast format, so that the voices and needs of international students are highlighted and centred. This is an exciting and cutting-edge project, which might really make a difference to understanding international students’ experiences under Covid.
Migrant Action has also offered internships at the University of Swansea
Temitope Salami is completing a summer internship as a research and support officer, working closely with the Director/Project Leader to develop a research project/briefing paper on the connections between the UK’s ‘New Plan’ for Immigration, COVID-19 pandemic, and implications for migrants, through a content analysis of segments of the British press, and a documentary analysis of Migrant Action’s casework. Prior to joining Migrant Action, he volunteered with Harm Reduction International as a research assistant in the Human Rights and Justice Department with a focus on global drug policy. His contributions included research on the Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2020 and a review of human rights standards on the impact of drug policies (right to health, elimination of discrimination against women and girls, arbitrary detention, and torture) which generated a briefing paper for the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is an MA candidate in Applied Criminal Justice & Criminology at Swansea University and holds a Masters and BSc in Legislative Studies and Political Science from the University of Benin and Babcock University, respectively.