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Refugees queue up for courses

RECORD numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers are enrolling onto English and other FE courses - in spite of the barriers many of them face getting to college, writes Neil Merrick.

Many colleges are laying on extra courses but admit they cannot cope with the demand, mainly because of shortages of teachers and accommodation. Liverpool Community College reports that 700 asylum-seekers are waiting to join English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.

The Governmet's controversial policy of dispersing asylum-seekers means demand for ESOL has spread beyond the South-east. "We're surrounded by people clamouring for classes," said Chris Lockwood, the Newcastle College college's director of ESOL. Although ESOL tuition is free, the Refugee Council claims many asylum-seekers still miss out because they cannot afford transport to colleges as they receive vouchers in place of cash benefits.

See October edition of College Manager

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