Creating jobs for asylum seeker & refugee students

Asylum seeker and refugee (ASR) students can find themselves in real financial difficulty while studying as they can’t access government support.

At VU we are proud to have more than 100 ASR students studying across higher and vocational education but with limited work experience, it can be challenging for these students to find work and then transition from study into the workforce.

New Horizons

Created in 2021 the New Horizons program aims to create employment pathways for ASR students, as well as mentoring and support, by matching them directly with employers within the University’s network.

These employers also receive support to help them overcome any barriers there may be to employing ASR students.

By helping both the student and the employer, workplaces are more supportive and ASR students experience a smoother transition into work.

"This program provided meaningful work in a welcoming supportive environment and the learnings, both practical and incidental, were enormously valuable to the students," says Julie Madden, VU’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Liaison Officer.

In stark contrast to the years of limitations and exclusion these students have experienced, this program offered a sense of inclusion and possibility for the future, and I observed a remarkable growth in confidence and optimism amongst the students.


Like much of the work we do here at VU, partnerships are key to providing students with the best possible outcomes.

VU partnered on New Horizons with Jesuit Social Services (JSS), who already run a successful refugee and asylum seeker jobs program. Their expertise has helped VU staff better support ASR employers and managers.

Greater Western Water (GWW), another long-time partner of VU, were enthusiastic to get involved in New Horizons. The pathways they provided allowed ASR students to gain meaningful work experience in preparation for job applications and interviews, and four of the students were offered positions working with the GWW team.

The security of regular income and flexible work arrangements ensured the students could concentrate on studies and importantly encouraged them to hold onto their career dream and aspirations. – Julie Madden.

The program was made possible due to a generous grant from the Scanlon Foundation. Their generosity and commitment, like that of all of our donors and funders, means that programs like these are making a real difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable students.