When Syrian refugee Jean Moussalli arrived in Hobart with his family in 2016, education was an important priority to him.

Unable to continue his University studies in management and accounting, Mr Moussalli was looking for something to help him with bridging skills to enable him to pursue his higher education further down the track.

That was when a friend recommended the University of Tasmania’s Clemente Program to him.

“When I arrived in Hobart I couldn’t complete my education because the University system is different and I needed academic English and academic learning skills,” he said.

“I asked my friend how I could gain these skills and he told me to go to Clemente to learn how to write reports, essays and to search the internet.

With my TAFE studies in English, Clemente is a good pathway for University.

A community engagement and pathway program, Clemente aims to break the cycle of poverty, inequity and social injustice for Australians facing multiple disadvantages and social isolation.

The students, aged between early 20s to their 70s, include refugees and asylum- seekers, migrants, and people from underprivileged backgrounds in Tasmania.

Mr Moussalli is one of a group of students who will proudly display their art as part of the Clemente ‘Drawn Life’ Exhibition 2016, which opens at The Entrepot Gallery, Centre for the Arts, Hunter Street, Hobart, tonight (Friday, 15 September 2017).

The exhibition, which includes visual metaphors, still-life, self-portrait and line drawings, features the work students have undertaken in the Introduction to Art – Drawing Basics unit.

The drawing unit is one of four uniquely designed foundation level Arts units students take as part of the program, along with Introduction to Indigenous Studies, Introduction to Sociology and Introduction to Philosophy.

After moving from Aleppo in Syria to Iraq, to Lebanon and then to Turkey, the Moussallis arrived in Tasmania as refugees 10 months ago.

Mr Moussalli said he and his family had settled in nicely – and were adjusting to the state’s ‘unexpected’ climate.

“It is very good, but when we came here we knew a bit about Sydney and Melbourne but didn’t know much about Hobart,” he said.

We thought it was like Hawaii so my dad cut his trousers off [to make shorts] and when we arrived in November it was freezing.

The Clemente Program was introduced by the University of Tasmania, in July 2015. The program was initiated by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) 13 years ago.