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Sanctuary scholarships now offer £4,000-a-year to asylum seekers and refugees


Students walking around University of Bradford campus

Scheme shows we are serious about equality, diversity, inclusion and improving social mobility

The University of Bradford has given a major boost to asylum seekers and refugees who aspire to enter higher education by significantly increasing its annual scholarship award.

Successful ‘sanctuary scholarship’ applicants already receive a ‘no tuition fee’ place at the University but previously the annual study support grant stood at £500.

It has now been increased to £4,000. The University of Bradford awards 10 sanctuary scholarships each year.

Potential to succeed

Emma Young, Head of Student Success Services, said: “At the University of Bradford we are committed to inclusion, social mobility and ensuring all individuals with the desire and potential to succeed in higher education are afforded that opportunity.

“Our Sanctuary Scholarships, designed for those who would not be eligible for funding via any other means, is one of the ways in which we live by those values and commitments.

“We know that financial means are a significant barrier for individuals from these communities, which is why the Sanctuary Scholarship is so important and why we have taken the decision to considerably enhance the Scholarship package from the 2021-22 academic year.

“The Sanctuary Scholarship is always a much sought after and competitive award and we know it is always highly valued and makes a real difference to recipients.”

Ranked #1

The University was recently ranked #1 in the new Social Mobility Index, which compares all universities in England based on their potential to improve students’ life chances. Previous to this, the University was also named University of the Year for Social Inclusion 2019/20 by The Times and Sunday Times.

It has also recently been cited as “an exemplar in the way it approaches cultural factors that can hinder social mobility" by the Rt Hon Justine Greening, founder of the Purpose Coalition, which exists to promote the improvement of social mobility.

Equality, diversity and inclusion comprise one of the four key priority areas for the University, as part of its five-year strategic plan (2020-25).

Sanctuary University

The University of Bradford became one of the UK’s first Universities of Sanctuary in 2017, in recognition of its work to foster a culture inclusion for asylum seekers and refugees. This followed five years of work training and developing learning packages to educate staff and students. Bradford is already a City of Sanctuary and the University has developed strong links, including encouraging students to take up volunteering opportunities to help welcome and support refugees and asylum seekers in the city.

A critical element of enabling individuals to not only access but progress and succeed in higher education is having an appropriate level of financial support in place, as this remains a significant barrier.


Gladys Lum is one who has benefited from the University’s scholarship scheme. The 28-year-old mother is in her first year of a two-year Social Work MA. She came to the UK from Cameroon eight years ago to study at the London School of Economics, after which she started a family - her daughter is now three - but her residency status was later refused. Although she was granted discretionary leave to remain because of her family, she could not access funding to pursue her dreams of becoming a social worker, until she applied for the Sanctuary Scholarship.

She said: “Furthering my education was something I was passionate about. As a victim of abuse, my course relates directly to my own life experiences but although I was granted leave to remain in the UK, I could not access funding.

“Knowing there are schemes out there like this gave me a real boost. Life is sometimes difficult, it’s a continuous struggle but I would advise people never to give up hope and to continue trying even if they are rejected. This scholarship has helped me a lot and am now looking forward to the future and to being able to provide for my daughter.”