A picture of refugees standing on a beach.

Edge Hill’s Migration Working Group North West (MWG-NW) has taken on two exceptional students as research assistants to boost their knowledge, skills and employability.  

The students, Tonika Stephenson and Caitlin Stranks, are helping with the MWG’s vital research looking at the lasting effects of Brexit for migrants living in the UK and the fate of refugees who make the dangerous crossing into Europe from Africa, Turkey, Bosnia or Serbia.

One of the key aims of the internship programme is to support younger researchers at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to show them how academic research is conducted and ultimately boost their employability.

Tonika said: “In the short time I’ve been an intern for the MWG I’ve already learnt a range of new research skills that will really help me as I prepare to do a Masters degree next year.” 

Tonika Stephenson is working with Reader in Law Dr Mariagiulia Giuffre’, assisting her research into the way European Governments have failed to accept refugees, sending them back to third countries, such as Turkey, Libya, Tunisia or Morocco which often send them straight back into the dangerous situations they were trying to escape from.

Picture of Tonika Stephenson.

Tonika said: “What’s really shocked me is the horrifying conditions faced by refugees. Whether is the difficult journey to get the Europe or the hideous treatment they face when they are forced to return to the people they have been fleeing from.

“It’s clear to me that current regulations are not working and that countries, even those within the EU, are not living up to their international responsibilities. The law needs to do more to address ambiguity and prevent exploitation of legal loopholes.”

Reader in Social Sciences Dr Zana Vathi is supporting Caitlin’s internship research project which is taking a broad look at migrants’ rights and how both EU citizens and other migrants have been affected by the Brexit vote.

A picture of Caitlin Stranks.

Caitlin said: “I know migrants face racial abuse, but I never realised how difficult it really is for EU nationals living in the UK. Sadly it seems the Brexit vote has increased the difficulties people face. I’ve read many first-hand accounts of unprovoked verbal and physical abuse and some people are now leaving the UK because their concerns about safety outweigh any positives to being in the UK.

“The internship has really opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and working. I’ll certainly be using my new research skills when in the Law Master’s Degree I’m starting at Edge Hill next year.”

The MWG internship programme touches upon a wide range of topics within the fields of refugee law and migration policy as well key issues like migrants’ integration, representation and wellbeing.

Dr Mariaguilia Giuffre.

Dr Giuffre said: “Refugees and issues surrounding immigration are constantly in the news worldwide. I hope that by looking into such hotly debated topics Tonika and Caitlin are able to expand their horizons and find out just why these issues are so complex and controversial.”

Dr Zana Vathi

Dr Vathi added: “Here at the MWG-NW we’re proud to be able to offer opportunities to academically minded students to pave the way for a research career or enhance their career prospects. Both Caitlin and Tonika have done incredibly well on the internship and I wish them all the luck in the world as they graduate this summer.”

Edge Hill’s Migration Working Group brings together academics, organisations and practitioners working on migration who are either based in the North West of the UK or researching migration in the region.

Both Caitlin and Tonika are being supported by the Student Opportunity Fund which provides funding to support ideas for career-enhancing projects, initiatives and activities.

If you’re an Edge Hill student, find out you can apply for financial support from the Student Opportunity Fund www.edgehill.ac.uk/scholarships/student-opportunity-fund or learn more about the range of scholarships the University offers www.edgehill.ac.uk/scholarships/

You can find out more information about studying Law at Edge Hill by visiting the subject page.