A Palestinian scholarship student due to begin a masters programme at Goldsmiths, University of London is worried that he may have to forfeit his place on the course thanks to the delay of his travel papers from the Israeli authorities.
Mohammed Awad, 28, was delighted to be accepted for a fully-funded place on the MA in Multilingualism, Linguistics, & Education at Goldsmiths’ New Cross campus, beginning 1 October.
The young man had applied for 10 different scholarships which would enable him to leave the Gaza Strip for the first time and fulfil his academic potential.
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Words “couldn’t describe [his] happiness” when Mr Awad won one of two annual Goldsmiths Humanitarian Scholarships for Palestinian postgraduates, he told The Independent.
“I worked hard for such an opportunity. It took one year of dedicated focus, attention and interest… I bought my suitcase and packed my luggage,” said the student from Jabalia, north of Gaza City.
However, subsequent red tape and lengthy delays at Cogat (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, the body responsible for implementing Israeli policy in occupied areas) in processing his application to leave Gaza mean that just a few days before his course begins, Mr Awad is still stranded in the coastal without the necessary paperwork.
He now faces missing out on the beginning of the term – and in a worst case scenario, having to give up his place due to a lack of time and funds to restart the visa process again.
Mr Awad applied for a visa to exit Gaza through the Erez crossing in order to travel overland to Amman, where he would fly to London.
His UK student visa gives him a window of time in which to enter the country, which expires on 13 October. At this point it seems unlikely he will be allowed to leave before 24 October at the earliest.
It will cost Mr Awad $1300 (£967) to extend the entry period of his UK visa – funds which the student, who currently works as an English lecturer, says he does not have.
“My family cannot afford to finance my master’s degree because my father was a worker in Israel and since the closure of border, he’s unemployed most of the time. I have a big family, I have four brothers and four sisters. They work to support for my family and survive instead.
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