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Bradford provides sanctuary for asylum-seeker and refugee scholars


The University of Bradford has awarded its first sanctuary scholarships, enabling people seeking asylum, or those already granted refugee status but who cannot access student finance, to participate in higher education.

The funding pays for tuition fees, and helps towards travel, some personal support to overcome barriers and English language tuition where necessary. It does not cover living and accommodation costs.

Applying for a scholarship is a competitive process and applicants must be:

  • An asylum seeker or the partner/dependant of an asylum seeker; OR
  • An asylum seeker/refugee/partner/dependant who has been granted discretionary leave to remain (DLR) or some other form of temporary status ; OR
  • A refugee who is unable to access student finance due to previous study.

Among the first recipients is Emily Wood, studying for a BA (Hons) in social work. When her uncle was killed in South Africa in 2002, she fled to the UK for what she thought would be a couple of weeks. Fourteen years later she remains an asylum seeker and has yet to be given indefinite leave to remain.

With no access to student finance, even after getting accepted for a place at the University, she had no idea how she would fund it. That's when she heard about the sanctuary scholarship and successfully applied.

Emily’s story is one that encompasses danger and tragedy, through to the unexpected success of her scholarship, and taking in acting and public speaking.

The scholarships are part of the UK-wide University of Sanctuary initiative aiming to ensure universities foster a culture of welcome and inclusion for asylum seekers and refugees. The University of Bradford has close links to the Bradford City of Sanctuary.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Bill McCarthy said: “It’s important to realise the role universities need to play in the refugee crisis. We are committed to supporting both students and staff who come to the UK after fleeing persecution, and building a culture of hospitality and welcome.”

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