As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, higher education institutions are undergoing a period
of financial uncertainty and rapid change to their teaching styles and learning approaches.
However, it is also an opportunity for universities to provide greater inclusion and an
accessible sector which enables those with sanctuary seeking backgrounds to feel engaged,
welcomed and reach their full potential. Although each university is different in the way
they create a culture of welcome, learning from sanctuary students, putting their voices at
the centre of discussions, as well as having knowledge about the barriers they face to access
and seek help throughout their studies is key to tackling these challenges and building
A great example of research work in this area has been completed at Newcastle University.
Francesca Speed, a PhD Student at Newcastle University who completed this research said:
“ We undertook this research project to better understand the needs of students and staff
from sanctuary background at the university.
We are very grateful to all those who contributed to the research, especially those that
shared lived experience. This has directly informed the report, as you will see. It has been a
very valuable process which has brought the lived experience to the forefront, compelling
the University to respond. You can find the full report here.
This is a growing and developing area of work and this research makes a key contribution in
identifying the needs and concerns of students and staff from sanctuary backgrounds,
mapping best practice, and considering the way forward. Newcastle University and other
institutions engaging with University of Sanctuary have an opportunity and responsibility to
make a real difference to individual lives, in a way that will be of benefit to them, the
universities that welcome them, and the communities they live in. This report is being
shared with relevant people within the university to take the recommendations forward.
We also hope that the report can be a useful resource for other individuals and institutions.”
We hope to build on this research example and use it as a good starting point for further
discussions about how to ensure sanctuary scholars are supported during this time. If you
have any examples or research you would like to share, please get in touch.