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Somerville and Mansfield awarded University-Colleges of Sanctuary

Congratulations to Oxford Mansfield and Somerville – The first to be recognised as University-Colleges of Sanctuary

The Colleges have been recognised for their ongoing commitment to embed the key concepts of welcome, safety, and inclusion across their institution and the wider community – a hopeful start to a University-wide momentum to developing a culture of inclusivity and awareness for those seeking sanctuary.

The Colleges have established a new Sanctuary scholarship as part of their efforts to address the challenges of accessing Higher Education for students with temporary immigration status. This scholarship provides a fully-funded place and living costs to support a student seeking sanctuary at each College. While Oxford University will lend financial support by waiving tuition fees for the scholars, further funding comes from college community fundraising, with many students actively involved in the campaign.

The awarding panel commended the number of staff and students who actively supported the Colleges with this initiative, through their various professional, voluntary, academic, or research work. There is clear enthusiasm and passion to develop a place of welcome and understand the barriers of people seeking protection, especially under the current circumstances (the COVID-19 pandemic).

Somerville has a long history of sheltering academics and students fleeing persecution. College Principal Jan Royall said: “I am proud of the way our staff, students, and alumni have given their passionate support to us to help provide an inclusive place of refuge and welcome for scholars seeking sanctuary. The fact that the two Colleges have remained committed to this issue even during the Covid-19 pandemic typifies the inclusive ethos of both institutions and the university to which we belong.”

Mansfield College, whose principal is human rights lawyer Helen Mountfield QC, is home to the Bonavero Institue of Human Rights, an institution dedicated to fostering research on pressing human rights issues including the refugee crisis and providing scholarships in human rights law.

“I am delighted and proud that Mansfield College Oxford has been recognised as a University College of Sanctuary,” said Helen Mountfield QC. “This reflects the open, inclusive, and progressive outlook of our entire academic community at Mansfield, and our commitment to living its values by making education and ideas available to a broad range of people without discrimination.

We look forward to playing an active role in the University of Sanctuary network; embedding a culture of inclusion and support for those who have been forced to migrate from their homes to seek sanctuary in the UK; and welcoming our first Sanctuary Scholar in October, thanks to the generous support of the Council of Lutheran Churches”.

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