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Training is a vital aspect of being a university that welcomes and understands the needs of students seeking sanctuary. The current fast-moving global events and humanitarian crises means that awareness-raising about welcoming new arrivals to the UK is more important than ever.

In order to ensure people with sanctuary-seeking backgrounds have a positive experience at university, it is important to equip staff on all levels of the university with good training, so that they feel more confident about navigating immigration issues relating to complex statuses, educational access, entitlements and rights.

Whether there are sanctuary scholarships provided at your university or they are being developed, your university community likely already has students (or staff) with this background who may experience unique challenges due to their status. These challenges should be understood so that students feel supported by the university from the point of application to graduation.

Training Providers

There are currently three main providers offering training specific to Sanctuary issues in Higher Education:

Universities of Sanctuary Award training

A suite of courses to support Higher Education Institutions interested in the University of Sanctuary Award. This training runs online. You will join other universities facing the same challenges or you can commission tailored or bespoke training that suits your institution's needs. Email [email protected] for more information.

Introductory Access to HE Practitioner Training

A four-hour introductory course around asylum and refugee statuses. This is a a general overview to set a foundational knowledge of the issues and begin thinking about putting support in place. It is delivered in a mixed practitioner setting (e.g. with NGOs) or in-house/bespoke training based on your university’s needs. Contact [email protected] to discuss.

University Staff Training Workshops

As the first UK-wide campaign organisation set up and led entirely by young migrants. We Belong provide 2 hour training workshops to HE staff on access. They focus on support for students with Limited Leave to Remain and those without settled status facing challenges in HE, but tailored courses can also be designed based on your needs. Please contact: [email protected]

 Things to note: 

  • You may have invaluable expertise in your local area from refugee support charities, local City of Sanctuary groups and other grassroots organiastions. As a good practice, we highly recommend that you seek their expertise, and invite them to speak at the university, whether through an information event, a webinar, or a talk where a person with lived experience is invited to speak.

From our experience with universities, there is also likely to be great expertise at your university by law academics and law centres or clinics who can provide this information. Inviting internal colleagues to speak or train staff is recommended and greatly strengthens your internal university networks. This helps connect and start positive and fruitful collaborations with the local community. 

  • It is vital to think about the needs of the students at your institution and the local context in terms of the type of support students need, the nature of the cases, and queries that different departments receive from students with sanctuary-seeking backgrounds.

One way to find out can be by completing a brief audit or simply asking support staff about areas of common challenges or topics they would like more support with. 

  • Learning about issues affecting students with sanctuary-seeking backgrounds is a continuous process and subject to constant changes reflecting on the new changes to the asylum system. Therefore, we encourage taking up training on an annual basis as a refresher and a good practice.

  • We highly encourage you to sign up for training from all three providers as they are all distinctive in content and format, and provide important information at different stages of the student experience, and across different university departments.

  • The organisations mentioned on this page are providers we have worked with for many years. However, there may be other refugee organisations providing excellent information and training about the asylum process. 

If you have any questions about information on this page: please contact [email protected]