Essex launches new ‘Sanctuary’ Scholarships

  • Date

    Fri 12 Jun 20

students hugging

At Essex we are committed to excellence in education and excellence in research. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to access higher education, whoever they are and wherever they’re from. We are proud to announce the launch of two new scholarships for students who are refugees or seeking asylum or protection.

We are offering two new Sanctuary Scholarships to support students who are refugees or seeking asylum to study for a Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Masters with us in 2020-21.

The scholarships will be awarded to new students who meet the criteria of UK asylum status or discretionary or limited leave to remain as a result of an asylum application – and who have already received an academic offer to study at the University. Funding will cover students’ tuition fees and £10,000 living costs for one year. We have committed to offering two Sanctuary Scholarships each year for the next three years.

The scholarships are part of wider and ongoing activity across our University community to provide help and support to refugees, from free English language lessons to providing volunteering time to local refugee action groups through the Students’ Union VTeam volunteer scheme.

Following our support for Colchester’s successful bid to become a Borough of Sanctuary in 2017, the University of Essex is working to be recognised as a University of Sanctuary.The University of Sanctuary award recognises the good practice of universities that welcome sanctuary seekers. This development follows the University’s pledge of support at the United Nations Global Refugee Forum in Geneva in December 2019.

Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “Sadly, for many people fleeing persecution or war, the idea of a university education seems an impossible dream. We can offer these students opportunities to advance their learning within our supportive Essex community. We are looking forward to extending a warm welcome to our Sanctuary Scholars, as well as providing this practical and financial support.

“Essex is one of the most international universities in the world. As a community we are committed to learning more about what it means to seek sanctuary, through our research, our teaching and our relationships with our communities. We are proud to offer positive action to enable our Sanctuary Scholars to continue their education with us. We look forward to welcoming our new scholars this autumn; they will be warmly encouraged to make their home for learning and for living within our University community.”

Yara Issa fled from Syria to the UK in 2012, as a refugee dependant of her partner. Having been awarded a Refugee Bursary by the University of Essex, Yara achieved a BA in Sociology and then a Masters’ degree here, while also gaining an NVQ3 as a teaching assistant to further help support herself financially. She is currently studying for a PhD within the Institute of Social and Economic Research. She said: "The University of Essex is like home to me; as a refugee, I got huge support from my department, emotionally and academically. The bursary gave me a lot of security, and made me feel I'm not alone, and I know from personal experience how this kind of support can make a real difference to refugees’ lives. I am very grateful for this opportunity, and I'm very proud to be a student at Essex.”

Maria Wilby, case worker for Refugee Action Colchester, said: "The University’s many lecturers and students have gone out of their way to assist clients and support us in applications for funding, giving us chances to spread information, and in placing students on placements with us. The Essex Student Action for Refugees group has transformed the lives of some of our most vulnerable and isolated women.

“We warmly welcome any additional help that the University can provide to refugees to ensure not only their safety but also to support their empowerment and education."

Find out more about the University of Essex Sanctuary Scholarships and how to apply.