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University awarded Sanctuary Status to support refugees

The University of St Andrews was officially awarded University of Sanctuary Status at an event in the town to mark its efforts to help refugees, asylum seekers and those fleeing war, violence and persecution (Tuesday 10 March).

As part of the new University of Sanctuary Status awarded to St Andrews, the University has also launched two new Sanctuary Scholarships specifically designed to support undergraduate and postgraduate applicants who are seeking sanctuary in the UK.

In partnership with the City of Sanctuary, Universities of Sanctuary is an initiative to recognise the good practice of universities in welcoming people seeking sanctuary into their communities, fostering a culture of awareness and inclusivity.

The initiative to gain Sanctuary Status was spearheaded by the St Andrews Refugee and Forced Migration Network. Representation in the group is from across the academic network as well as from key positions across the University. The group set out to support the development of a strategy and policy for academics at risk and provide a resource hub for current support, projects, research and teaching relating to refugees and forced mobility.

Working alongside staff and students from across the University, Professor Rebecca Sweetman, Head of the School of Classics, led the efforts which culminated in the University being awarded Sanctuary Status by Universities of Sanctuary in late 2019.

Professor Sweetman said of the Sanctuary Status application: “It was a huge team effort which involved colleagues across the University from the Global Office and Registry to the School of International Relations. Colleagues collated information on what research and teaching was taking place across the University in relation to forced migration and what systems of support were in place. I then started to look at what we could do more proactively. It was then that I contacted the City of Sanctuary Scotland Coordinator, Gün Orgun, to start the process of applying for Sanctuary Status.

“The launching of two new annual Sanctuary Scholarships will provide people with refugee status, asylum seekers and those with discretionary leave tuition waivers and living cost grants.”

Universities, as key institutions within our society, have a responsibility to support people from all walks of life to reach their potential. St Andrews is the second University of Sanctuary in Scotland, alongside the University of Edinburgh, which was one of the first awarded universities in 2017.

City of Sanctuary has partnered with Article 26, Student Action for Refugees and others to develop a network to inspire and support universities to develop a culture and  practice of welcome within their own institutions, in their wider communities, and across the Higher Education sector in the UK.

The application process to gain Sanctuary Status contains a detailed criterion expected of each university which is assessed during a visit to the establishment by an appraisal group. Amongst these requirements was the necessity to have a three-year plan for the future of maintaining and developing existing plans.


Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.


Photo captions

Top: Stephen Gethins, Professor of Practice in International Relations and Strategic Adviser – External Relations, University of St Andrews; Professor Sally Mapstone (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews; and Colm Wilson, Fife Migrants Forum with Refugee Action St Andrews (RASA) students

Middle (left to right): Sheila Mills, Scotland Manager, CARA; Professor Rebecca Sweetman, Chair of the University’s Refugee and Forced Migrations Network; Dr Ben Hudson, Steering Group Member, University of Sanctuary; Professor Sally Mapstone, University Principal and Vice-Chancellor; Gün Organ, Regional Coordinator, City of Sanctuary; Oudai Tozan, Steering Group Member, University of Sanctuary; and Sam Lister, Director of the Global Office, University of St Andrews

Bottom: Professor Sally Mapstone (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews) and Dr Ben Hudson (Steering Group Member, University of Sanctuary

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