We are delighted to announce that the University of Essex has been recognised as a University of Sanctuary, reflecting our commitment to promoting a culture of welcome, safety, and inclusion to refugees and asylum seekers across our campuses and our wider communities.
Universities of Sanctuary are part of the UK's City of Sanctuary initiative, which works to ensure our nation is a welcoming place of safety for all.
Our achievement of this award reflects our commitment to social action, particularly for those who are marginalised or excluded. Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “We are thrilled to be recognised as a University of Sanctuary. The University of Essex has a long and proud tradition of providing sanctuary for academics and students. I am especially proud of the strength of partnership work between our students and staff. The University, its staff and students, stand together to take action, in partnership with those who share our commitments to inclusion, to supporting refugees and asylum seekers, and to social action for the benefit for people and communities, as set out in our University Strategy 2019-25.
“Achieving this award reflects the amazing work of Essex staff and students to support refugees and asylum seekers, over many years. It will also spur us on as we continue to advance our mission of social impact across our University, within our wider communities, and across the Higher Education sector in the UK.”
Read more about the University’s support for refugees
University of Sanctuary Co-ordinator at City of Sanctuary UK, Maryam Taher, said: "We are thrilled that the University of Essex has been awarded the title of University of Sanctuary. The panel – made up of a University of Sanctuary steering group member, a student with lived experience, a local City of Sanctuary member and an academic from another accredited institution –particularly commended the University’s scholarships for asylum seekers, their exceptional research on sanctuary-related matters, close links with community refugee organisations, and the strong commitment from the senior team. The panel also congratulated the University on the enthusiasm of the students at Essex to drive and inspire a culture of welcome and inclusion."
Maggie Filipova-Rivers, Midlands and East of England Regional Coordinator of City of Sanctuary, said: “Congratulations to the University of Essex! I am thrilled to welcome Essex as an awarded member of the network of universities that are working hard to ensure inclusion and welcome for people fleeing persecution and violence. Universities are a very important part of the local institutional makeup and we look forward to working together to further our vision in the coming months and years.”
Our work to support refugees and asylum seekers
The University of Sanctuary panel considered a wide range of activities as evidence of how the University of Essex puts its beliefs into practice, including the work of our Centre for Trauma, Asylum, and Refugees, our Human Rights Centre, and our Centre for Migration Studies.
Our staff and students are dedicated to advancing the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, and to advancing refugee care, working with partner organisations. Earlier this year, we were proud to launch a new Global Academic Interdisciplinary Network, co-led by Professor Geoff Gilbert, in partnership with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Students making a difference
Our students’ voices have been at the heart of this journey. Through their work within the curriculum and through volunteering,our students have demonstrated their passion in advocating and campaigning for the rights of people who are the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our community. This includes working with local organizations such as Refugee Action Colchester, providing English classes and integration assistance. Through our Human Rights Society, Amnesty International Essex, and Essex Student Action for Refugees, our students are making a vital difference on our campuses and in our wider communities, both here in Essex and around the world.
Scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers
As part of our bid to become a University of Sanctuary the University of Essex was proud to launch two new scholarships to support refugee and asylum seeker students in furthering their education. These scholarships offer a full fee waiver for a Postgraduate Taught Masters programme and £10,000 to support living and study costs.