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Referenda Case

All Student Vote (Spring 2025)

Getting Asylum Seeker Students the Right to Work

This motion calls for the Students' Union to join the campaign to overturn the Government's ban on people seeking asylum being able to work as a Lift the Ban Business Ally at the earliest opportunity. 

Key Definitions 


Lift the Ban: A coalition of more than 260 organisations across the UK who are campaigning to overturn the Government's ban on people seeking asylum being able to work.1 


Asylum seekers: An asylum seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country, but who hasn't yet been legally recognized as a refugee and is waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim.2 


Sanctuary University: An institution that 'Offers good practice in welcoming asylum seekers and refugees into the university community and fostering a culture of welcome and inclusion for all.3 


This Union notes 

  1. Asylum seekers are given £6.77 per day to live.4 There are often problems with the payments, which according to the British Red Cross is the main reason for poverty amongst asylum seekers in the UK.5 


  1. Asylum seekers are only able to seek work on the Shortage Occupation List6 1 year after submitting their claims.7 The Head of Advocacy at Refugee Council UK stated that this extremely limited access to work strips away asylum seekers’ dignity.8 


  1. The lack of sufficient financial support and the very limited access to work leads to soaring poverty rates and food insecurity among asylum seekers according to The Food Foundation.9? 



  1. High poverty rates result in asylum seekers being constrained to overcrowded, and often, windowless hotel rooms all day.10 These circumstances are an added pressure to asylum seekers' mental health, 61% of which are severely mentally distressed according to the Refugee Council.11? 



  1. Limiting asylum seekers’ right to work increases their vulnerability to labour exploitation.12 



  1. The Illegal Migration Act13 and recent questioning of the Refugee Convention by the Home Secretary Suella Braverman14 demonstrates an increasingly hostile environment for everyone claiming asylum in the UK. Despite this, 81% of the people polled by YouGov in 2022 were in favour of providing asylum seekers in the UK with the right to work.15 


  1. The University of Warwick is a Sanctuary University16 and a member of Lift the Ban coalition.17 There is virtually no information on the University website about their support towards Lift the Ban.? 


  1. There are 31 refugee and asylum seeker students attending the University in the 23/24 academic year.18 They are unable to take on paid work, including internships, work experiences and part-time jobs.19 


  1. The Warwick SU by-law 11.1.3.a outlines the following core principle: “Ensure that the SU is proactive in matters relating to equality of opportunity and demonstrates that the organisation values diversity.20 



  1. The University of Warwick Students’ Union is not a member of the Lift the Ban campaign. 


This Union believes 


  1. The grant to asylum seekers is not, in itself, enough to support the livelihood of asylum seekers. 


  1. The limitation on job-seeking and the limited available jobs on the Shortage Occupation List amounts to a practical blanket ban on job-seeking.21 


  1. The ban will exacerbate the existing mental health burden22 on asylum seekers due to the inability to properly settle and integrate. 


  1. The ban amounts to a violation of the human right to a dignified life and the right to work.23 


  1. All students, regardless of their immigration status, should have equal career opportunities. By being banned from seeking jobs, asylum-seeking students will be at a disadvantage compared to their fellow students who can get employment experience during their study at Warwick. 


  1. The University by not being vocal in its support of the campaign signifies its insincerity in supporting the campaign. 


  1. The Union by not taking a public stand on the campaign is, by proxy, aligning itself with the Government’s policies, going against its own values, and putting itself at odds with the University’s sanctuary policy. 


This Union resolves 


  1. The Vice Presidents for Welfare & Campaign and Democracy & Development will work with the SU to join the campaign as a Lift the Ban Business Ally at the earliest possible opportunity. 


  1. The Students’ Union Officers will be proactive about the participation of the Union in the campaign and encourage the University to do so. 


  1. The Vice President for Welfare & Campaign will develop welfare and career support schemes for asylum-seeker students and encourage the University to do so. 


  1. To prove its support for asylum seeker students, the Union should request that the University acquire art pieces on campus that commemorate asylum and asylum seekers.?