World University Service is a non-governmental organisation that has campaigned on behalf of university students and staff for social justice.
At the centenary in 2020 there are active committees in Austria, Canada and Germany.
Their current work can be explored on their websites
Today WUS UK’s work continues with three major activities.
- Archives online: Retaining on line digital archive within Warwick University’s MRC
- WUS website: Developing Reflections, linking Archives, WUS, the centenary book , and research.
- Research initiatives: Exploring WUS (UK) programmes for refugees and examine wider refugee issues.
Additionally, WUS UK “alumni” are participating in the Centenary Publication and Conference in 2021
Some of the records were saved and were archived in the Modern Record Centre at Warwick University. This website includes an article on the history of WUS(UK) between 1970 and 1980 in the WUS Centenary Book, which also includes 16 personal reflections by WUS (UK) staff of their work. The WUS (UK) online archive includes copies of many of the annual reports from 1955 to 2004 and a number of reports.
The demise of Education Action International in 2008 and its archives
In June 2003 WUS UK adopted the operating name Education Action International (EAI) to reflect more closely their goals and activities that had moved away from the university staff and student origins. The Refugee Education & Training Advisory Service (RETAS) was part of EAI. Although a six-figure bequest was made to WUS (UK) in 2005 by its former Chairperson Barbara How, Education Action International had a severe financial crisis and ceased operating by 2008. It went into liquidation in early 2010.
Some of the records were saved, however, many are still missing. Consequently, individuals with their own personal archives on WUS and Education Action International are invited to share these with the Modern Records Centre if they would add to the collection.
The archive and the links with Warwick University lead to an international symposium being convened at the university ” Memories of Exile and Return” which explored the reception of Chilean academic refugees in the UK, following the military coup in Chile on 11 September 1973. The event focused on the refugee programme run by World University Service (WUS UK) between 1974 and 1985.
Chileans in Exile
Research projects have been established in the last decade involving academics, former staff and former refugee awards holders a research project was developed in 2016 based on WUS (UK) programme for Chilean refugees in Exile (1973-86) entitled “Chilean Exiles in the UK”. More details of the research are shown under Recent and Current Projects under the WUS UK heading
Ethiopians and Eritreans in Exile
In 2021 a doctoral programme will begin to study the WUS (UK) programme for Ethiopian and Eritrean Refugee students (1977-1988). More details are under Recent and Current Projects under the WUS UK heading,
Recent and Current Projects
WUS UK programme and Chilean Refugees.
This project, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, focused on gathering the experiences of Chileans who came to the UK, following the 1973 coup d’état, under the auspices of World University Services’ Chile scholarship scheme. Project partners include the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights) in Santiago de Chile, the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick, and Dr Alan Phillips, formerly of WUS.
The research objectives were to:
- Explore the mechanisms by which Chilean exiles from political persecution were brought out of Chile to the UK through the auspices of the WUS and related civil society groups.
- Collaborate with the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos in order to enhance their current collection regarding Chilean exiles in the UK following the 1973 coup by:
- creating a forum to explore testimonies of Chilean exile journeys and settlement strategies (encompassing those who later returned to Chile and those who have not);
- creating an archive of audio podcasts (accompanied by bilingual transcriptions and translations) of representative exile experiences;
- publishing scholarly findings in an appropriate academic journal.
- Assist and support the MMDH in conveying the insights of these exile stories as a means of strengthening human rights narratives and policies, and underpinning a culture of peace in Chile; in particular, establish a collaboration between the Modern Records Centre (MRC) at the University of Warwick and the MMDH in order to promote the network findings and make materials on the WUS reciprocally available through both institutions.
- Propose that the WUS program offers significant insights into the issues that exile experiences raise for both exiles and host countries, and offer policy reflections on the historical lessons of the handling of Chilean refugees 40 years on.
As the project draws to a close and its findings are published, this is a timely moment to outline on the activities which enabled the project research to be completed, and to engage a wider public audience in the work.
The project launched with a poetry reading by actress Julie Christie at the Warwick Arts Centre on 25 May 2017, followed by a screening of Stephen Frear’s 1978 ITV Playhouse drama, Cold Harbour. This event did much to raise the profile of the project and to establish links with Chileans in the UK who later participated by offering interview testimony for our archive. (A 2014 reading of Neruda’s poetry by Julie Christie at the Warwick Arts Centre is available via podcast here:
A one-day workshop was then held with WUS former beneficiaries and scholars working on Chilean exile, including the screening of a short film on the WUS-Chile scheme produced as part of the project’s public engagement activities:
https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/modernlanguages/research/chileanexile/. Context was provided by Prof. Alan Angell, who established Academics For Chile shortly after the coup, and Ms Marilyn Thompson, a former WUS case worker. Academic speakers included Dr Grace Livingstone (on UK policy towards Chilean refugees), Dr Jasmine Gideon (health issues confronted by Chilean refugees in the UK), and Dr Peter Grieder (Chilean refugees in East Germany). The day ended with a round-table discuss with former Chilean becarios and contemporary refugee professionals, setting Chilean refugee experiences and the WUS work in context.
The workshop coincided with an exhibition, Crafting Resistance, held at the Modern Records Centre, Warwick. Curated by Dr Gideon and Ms Gloria Miqueles, a former Chilean political prisoner, the objects in the display comprised artefacts and craftwork made by Chilean political prisoners. It aimed to challenge the notion of political prisoners as passive victims by highlight the creative agency of many in difficult circumstances. For the exhibition poster, see here:
In November 2017, Prof. Alison Ribeiro de Menezes presented the project at the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos as part of a celebration of Chilean Exile and International Solidarity. This was followed by a major conference at the Museo de la Memoria (https://web.museodelamemoria.cl/cartelera/el-exilio-chileno-en-europa-wus-y-el-apoyo-internacional-a-los-exiliados/), focusing on the educational character of the WUS scholarship scheme but also drawing attention to Chilean cultural creativity in exile. Dr Paola Bayle and Prof. Ribeiro de Menezes spoke on the former, while Dra Soledad Bianchi, Mauricio Redolés, Prof. Patrice McSherry, and Dr Karen Bishop addressed the latter. Author Carla Guelfenbein, recipient of a WUS grant, offered insights into how the experience of exile influenced her writing and sense of cultural belonging. In this, the conference complemented the theme of the earlier exhibition.
Project activities formally concluded in 2018 with events at the University of Warwick, including a presentation on the role and scope of the Museo de la Memoria by Dra María Luisa Ortiz, its Head of Collections, and an Evening of Words and Music, including readings by novelist Carla Guelfenbein, poet María Eugenia Bravo Calderara, and songs by singer-songwriter Valentina Montoya Martínez
Aside these directly related activities, the project’s work has been enhanced by seminar presentations on Chilean theatre (Prof. Catherine Boyle speaking at Warwick in November 2017), and by early discussion of research findings by Prof. Ribeiro de Menezes. She presented the following conference papers:
2018 ‘Recipe for a Revolution: Empanadas and the Memories of Chilean Women Exiles in the UK’, Protest Memory network conference, University of Sussex, 30-31 May.
2018 ‘El exilio chileno en el Reino Unido: el caso WUS’, Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Santiago, 17 October.
2019 ‘Human Rights or Social Justice: How Might We Explain Refugee Experiences Today?’, Cultural Literacy & Cosmopolitan Conviviality Conference, Cultural Literacy in Europe Network, Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon, 9-11 May.
2019 ‘What’s Lost and How Can We Find It? Chilean Exile Stories and the Challenges of Cross-Cultural and Cross-Disciplinary Research’, Memory Studies Association Annual Conference, Madrid, 25-28 June.
2019 ‘Exile, Memory and Sentiment in the Novels of Carla Guelfenbein’, Women in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies Annual Conference, Maynooth University, 1-2 November.
2021 ‘Recovering Refugee Stories: World University Service’s Chile Programme and the Experience of Return’, Annual Conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland, University College Dublin, 29-31 March (online).
Finally, the project was showcased on the BBC’s One Show on 1 March 2018, as the item ‘Saved by a Scholarship’. Featuring a number of Chileans who benefitted from a WUS scholarship and who participated in the project, it was perhaps the highlight of our public engagement work and clearly celebrated the WUS approach to assisting those in need.
The Journal of Refugee Studies published a substantial academic article on this research which can be found here. See also RECENT AND CURRENT RESEARCH sub heading for a summary.