Our English Language Teaching Centre has been recognised for supporting refugee academics


Our English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) was shortlisted for the Local Innovation award at the British Council English Language Teaching Innovation Awards (ELTons).

The award nomination recognised the ELTC service - EAP for Syrian academics, being delivered jointly with the University of Reading, and Edinburgh University, which provides voluntary language lessons and support to Syrian academics exiled in Turkey.

The programme was set up a year ago and provides online learning, tutoring and materials for Syrian refugee academics in English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Syrian Academics are paired with an experienced EAP tutor, including David Read Director of technology-enhanced learning at our University, who deliver weekly online lessons using web conferencing software.The project is helping the exiled academics to grow in confidence and engage and reconnect with the global academic community, as well as improving their employability in Turkey.

Along with the online lessons, they are also given access to a website where self-study materials and social contact with their peers and tutors are available. This is very important given the isolation that some of them experience in their new circumstances.

David and Marwan

David Read, Director of technology-enhanced learning, said:

"This programme helps Syrian academics develop the key knowledge and skills they need to survive in modern academic life, but also it gives them a sense of motivation and hope for the future.

"It was fantastic to be nominated for the award. Most importantly it highlights the work we’re doing thanks to funding from the Council for At-Risk Academics to support Syrian academics. I hope this will encourage more people to get involved and secure more funding for the programme."

Marwan Hussain, a Syrian academic on the programme said:

“This programme is very useful for me, their online system helps me improve my English and it means I have been able to come to the UK to the University of Liverpool as a visiting academic"

Roughly 60 Syrian academics are currently enrolled on the programme. David Read has travelled to Istanbul to meet the Syrian academics twice so far. Two of the Syrian academics will be travelling to Sheffield in July to exchange knowledge with colleagues in Material Science on a project looking at concrete.

David also trains the UK tutors in the technical skills required to teach the Syrian academics online and in how to deal with the technical difficulties the Syrian academics sometimes experience. Internet connection in the cities where the refugees are largely based is unreliable and sometimes affected by fighting south of the border.

Funded by the Open Society through the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), the project has also received support from two Turkish Universities; Boğaziçi University and Kadir Has University.

If you would like to find out more about how you can support this project please contact David Read: d.p.read@sheffield.ac.uk

Find out more about EAP for Syrian academics

Find out more about our ELTC