REFUGEES living in Edinburgh have spoken warmly of a scheme that has offered free English classes to displaced people this summer.

Participants in the University of Edinburgh initiative have included people who have fled war or political unrest in Syria, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong.

Also taking part in the ten-week programme are people seeking refuge from Ukraine, who are taking part in the Scottish Government’s Super Sponsor scheme.

This initiative, launched in June, has helped meet the demand for accessible English language courses across the city by offering 90 places per day to non native speakers.

Addy, who fled from Syria, said the classes have helped to build his confidence. He said: “My teacher has an amazing way of breaking things down. It helps me understand and he always keeps lessons light and fun. I really appreciate this.”

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Anna, who came to Edinburgh from Ukraine, said she has met new people through the classes. She said: “We must learn English to survive here. I am so happy to learn when everything else has been taken away. Because of the war, we really have lost so much already. These classes help us keep going."

Staff from the University’s Centre for Open Learning have led the flexible drop-in sessions in the Holyrood campus, which run until the end of August. Registration is now open for classes starting in September.

Amelia Harker, teaching fellow and English language for widening participation coordinator at the University of Edinburgh said: “Refugees are just people trying to rebuild their lives.

"They have hopes, skills, and display incredible resilience and agency. Education is a human right and helping them is our duty. I can see how much it means to people and I can see it on their faces when I teach. Doing this work is an honour.”

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The university was the first institution in Scotland to be accredited as a University of Sanctuary. Earlier this year, it launched its Sanctuary Scholarship scheme for students living in war-torn regions across the world.

The scheme offers students the opportunity to study in Edinburgh, take part in short visits to Scotland or study in their home country.