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University of Sanctuary

The University of Bradford has a Sanctuary Working Group, looking at how we can welcome asylum seekers and refugees into our University.

It's part of the University of Sanctuary, a UK-wide initiative aiming to ensure universities foster a culture of welcome and inclusion for asylum seekers and refugees. We have close links to the Bradford City of Sanctuary.

Our small working group was formed in 2012 with representatives from the Faculty of Health Studies and the Faculty of Social Sciences, all of whom had an interest in issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees in relation to research, curriculum development and practice. This working group expanded in 2015, now with representatives from across the University.

In 2015, the Faculty of Health Studies achieved the Sanctuary in Health Award for its work engaging asylum seekers and refugees in Faculty teaching, learning, assessment and research.

The work of Health Studies was launched cross the University during the Diversity Festival in April 2016 and in September 2017 we received our University of Sanctuary award. This was presented to members of the working group at a Sanctuary supper in March 2018.


University of Sanctuary Training for Staff

This module is designed to help university staff in developing insights into the lives of our refugee students.

Why take the module?

  • Increase your understanding of the issues that refugee students face
  • Improve your cultural competence and awareness, as part of our commitment to diversity
  • Support the City of Sanctuary initiative.
Global Context Model

Dr Cooper's 'Global Context Model'

Universities of Sanctuary offer hope to asylum seekers and refugees.

Read the latest from the Higher Education Policy Institute about the value of Universities of Sanctuary. This "stream recognises good practice in universities in the UK which fosters a culture, and a practice, of welcome for people seeking sanctuary. Some Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are located in communities with active City of Sanctuary networks, whilst others are playing a key role in catalysing welcome beyond their campuses. Universities, of course, also offer cutting edge research important to guide wider policy change."

Working Group Receiving Award

Representatives from the Sanctuary Group receive award.

Achievements and news

  • In 2018 The Working Group and its city partners were honoured with a Vice-Chancellor's Award for their work.

  • Dr Mel Cooper, Dr Russell Delderfield, Catherine Waskett and Diana Flores presented a keynote at the 8th Making Diversity Interventions Count Conference.

  • The University of Bradford School of Law has links with the Manuel Bravo Project in Leeds, an NGO which provides free legal assistance to asylum seekers who have been refused asylum in the UK. Some students with additional language skills have previously volunteered to work as interpreters for the Project. The Project is now establishing a bank of interpreters for Manuel Bravo and other local NGOs to share. Interpreting for the Project is great work experience for students, and the Project is now extending recruitment of interpreters to other Universities within the region.

  • As of 2018/19 we have 19 asylum seeking or refugee students accessing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes through Sanctuary Scholarships, working with the Helena Kennedy Foundation Article 26 project. & of these are new to the university this academic year.
  • Dr Mel Cooper and William Lee Mitchell discuss the potential role of higher education institutions in offering a measure of sanctuary to those caught up in the ever-deepening refugee crisis.

  • We have developed and launched a bespoke e-module to help University staff understand Sanctuary as it relates to the University and their work.

Support fund for Sanctuary Scholarship students

We have a number of students who have been awarded a Scholarship by the University.

They are asylum seekers/refugees with no recourse to student finance and would therefore not be able to study in the UK without the scholarship.

They may be experiencing extreme hardship and are not entitled to the hardship fund offered by the University.

We would like to create a support fund specifically for these students and those who will be awarded scholarships in the future.

If you would like to make a regular donation, or donate the pennies from your net pay each month, you can do so via HR ServiceNow. Once you have logged in, search for ‘Support fund for Sanctuary Scholarship Students’ to locate the correct form.

The Bradford City of Sanctuary

The Bradford City of Sanctuary webpage has a number of volunteering opportunities for anyone who would like to get involved in helping welcome and support refugees and asylum seekers in our city.

Some of these opportunities would provide valuable work-related experience for students in the health professions, psychology or sociology. The list is regularly updated, so if you don't see something that interests you, please check back or contact the City of Sanctuary team and let them know what you're interested in.

Support Red Cross work with refugees in Bradford

Creating Together Bradford

Get involved

We would like staff and students to get involved with this initiative, if you would like more information please contact a member of the University of Sanctuary working group: