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UK Universities pledge to welcome refugees on World Access to Higher Education Day

City of Sanctuary welcomes the commitment shown today, on World Access to Higher Education Day, from UK universities who have already pledged support for refugee access to education on, and has called for other fellow institutions to take similar steps.

The universities pledged their commitment in response to Student Action for Refugees and City of Sanctuary’s call on higher education institutions and refugee education organisations to pledge towards the UNHCR goal of 15% of refugees in higher education by 2030.

The pledge is being signed by senior staff at UK universities and institutions. It can be signed (by senior staff only) here until November 28th.

City of Sanctuary Streams and Partnership Manager, Ben Margolis says: More people than ever before are living forcibly displaced from their homes and seeking sanctuary elsewhere. In the UK, a growing number of communities are committed to ensuring their towns and cities are places of sanctuary. Universities have a vital role to play in ensuring that forced migrants are able to access Higher Education, and also in working with their local community to improve the practice and culture of welcome”

In the UK there are already over 70 universities which already have programmes of scholarships and bursaries to help refugees and asylum seekers to study and 14 institutions are recognised as Universities of Sanctuary, with many more applying to be recognised.

Maryam Taher, STAR activist and York University Sanctuary Scholarship Recipient says: “I will always give credit to this scholarship for allowing me to grow academically and personally, and for giving me and my family hope at a time when we most needed it. This scholarship changes lives for the better and I’m fortunate enough to be one example of that.”

The UK pledge has already been signed by  30 universities and sits alongside the global statement of support coordinated by UNHCR. The pledge commits organisations and universities to continue to expand their work on access to higher education for people seeking refugee protection. The pledges will be submitted to the first ever Global Refugee Forum in December 2019 set up to monitor the commitments signed by states in the 2018 Global Compact for Refugees.

Signatories include: Birkbeck College of the University of London, the University of Bradford, Cardiff Metropolitan University, De Montfort University, the University of Exeter, the University of Hull, the University of Lincoln, the University of Leicester, the University of Liverpool, Kingston University, the University of Manchester, the University of South Wales, the University of Warwick, the University of Winchester, York St John University and the University of York.

STAR’s CEO Emily Crowley says: “We’ve been campaigning for improved access to university for refugees and people seeking asylum for over 10 years. Thanks to the commitment of these institutions we are seeing our dream of a society where refugees have equal access to education become reality! We see first-hand how life changing being able to go to university can be on an individual level, but we also know that everyone benefits if you give people the opportunity to be part of society and contribute.”

For more information about World Access to Higher Education Day click here.