About Us

UTRS was formed in 2004 by a group of young refugees and asylum seekers from different countries living in South Africa at the time and wishing to pursue their education. On approaching tertiary institutions to study, these youngsters were denied access for many reasons including the kinds of documents they carry, and become determined to address these exclusions, not only for their sakes but that of the entire refugee and asylum seeker community at large. UTRS was then born from that, stemming from the belief that we as refugees and asylum seekers must stand up to the challenge of coming together and working to find common solutions to the difficulties we all experience.  Surviving on sheer volunteerism and determination, UTRS currently operates from Cape Town, where it is based.

Currently UTRS offers the following services:

UTRS focuses on promoting the rights and wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers at tertiary education.  The work UTRS is involved in is:

  • Lobbying on behalf of refugee and asylum seeker students at tertiary education and those seeking to access tertiary education;
  • Building capacity and providing them with opportunities for empowerment so that they can become responsible and contributing citizens;
  • Identifying or creating funding opportunities from which the most needy and deserving refugee and asylum seeker tertiary students could benefit;
  • Raising awareness and educating the host communities about who refugees are, how people become refugees and whey there are refugees in South Africa.
  • The current focus of UTRS works is the student communities. Soon we hope to reach also the local communities where the refugees and asylum seeker students live;
  • Promoting integration and social cohesion within the student communities at tertiary institutions and within local communities generally;
  • Building ties with other civil society actors, NGOs but also tertiary institutions, foundations and the general public with a view to informing about the situation of refugees and asylum seekers at tertiary education.