Year of good work is unravelling as the Taliban take control
The Linda Norgrove Foundation is to seek visas for 10 students it supports, as well as for two staff members currently too frightened to leave their homes in Afghanistan.
The Lewis-based charity has seen a record number of applications from women for scholarships this year.
But it has shelved plans to advertise for new students this autumn due to growing uncertainty under the new regime.
One female student described the current situation as a “living death”.
The foundation was set up by John and Lorna Norgrove in memory of their daughter Linda who campaigned for women to gain an education.
She was abducted in Afghanistan in 2010 while working for a charity.
She was killed, aged 36, during a rescue operation by US forces.
Last year was its 10th anniversary and has raised £2m so far.
It mostly supports women studying medicine or related fields including dentistry, pharmacy and midwifery.
It also helps those studying business-related subjects, such as computer science, international relations and economics.
This year 1,700 women responded to the charity’s adverts for potential students, up from 491 in 2020.
Some 45 scholarships are being supported, including 25 for medical students.
Charity trustees are determined to continue the scholarships.
They want to try to obtain visas for up to 10 students to allow them to continue their studies in Scotland.
It is also hoped to bring two Afghan women working for the charity in Kabul to this country.
Norgrove said: “I’m fielding a lot of emails from students about the situation. One woman called it a living death.
“They are all concerned they will not be allowed to study even though the Taliban seemed to be indicating they will continue to be allowed to study in essential subjects.
“I would have thought that medicine and midwifery are top of the list of essential subjects.
“For students studying economics and IT technologies the future seems a little more doubtful, but we have to wait and see.
“In the UK there are moves afoot to take refugees from Afghanistan. So we are looking into the possibility of getting some medical students over to study in Scotland.”
He added: “For us to abandon the Afghans now would betray their trust and our principles.
“We will continue to support the scholarships and existing projects. But the needs that arise during such a rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan mean that we have to become even more flexible and adaptable.
“We hope that we can continue our programmes under the new regime.”