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Fulham refugee from Somalia who spoke no English when she fled civil war wins place at dream university

Friday August 19, 2022
By Aine Fox, Ian Jones & Hannah Cottrell

The student arrived in the UK when she was seven after her family fled Somalia’s civil war

Nagma Abdi won a place at her dream university, the London School of Economics, where she will go on to study social anthropology (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

A Somali refugee now living in Fulham has secured a place at her dream university, 11 years after fleeing the civil war in her birth country. Nagma Abdi, who arrived in the UK with her family when she was seven, has secured a spot at her first choice of university, the London School of Economics, where she will study social anthropology.

Ms Abdi, 18, achieved stunning results of A in sociology, just four marks from an A*, as well as B in psychology and C in media studies. At her school, the Ark Putney Academy, she said: "I feel very happy, I've worked very hard, and obviously with Covid it's been quite challenging."

It comes as hundreds of thousands of students across the country are receiving their A-level results today (August 18) after having sat exams for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak. Ms Abdi continued: "It made everything more difficult, you were very unsure what was happening. We weren't sure whether the exams would happen, then there were questions about grade boundaries and the questions because we've had changed curriculums."

Having arrived in the UK with her family as a young girl who spoke no English her first challenge was getting to grips with the language and grammar. She said: "English became a big challenge – it took me about a year and a half to work out grammar – but in the end, everything went well for me."

A-level grades received by UK students are down on the past two years but remain higher than pre-pandemic levels. Grades had been expected to drop back from 2021 levels – when pupils were assessed by their teachers – as part of a transition year which saw marks aiming to reflect a midway point between last year and 2019.

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) said the overall pass rate – the proportion of entries graded A* to E – fell by 1.1 percentage points, from 99.5 per cent in 2021, to 98.4 per cent this year. However, this is up by 0.8 points from 97.6 per cent in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Nagma Abdi (left) and Zuhoor Haibe with their A-level results at Ark Putney Academy, South West London (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)


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