The University of Leicester is striving to make itself a place that welcomes people with refugee backgrounds, is understanding towards their needs and provides opportunities through a range of initiatives. Through its work in this area, it was awarded University of Sanctuary status in a special ceremony attended by Sir David Attenborough on 11 November 2018. Sir David said:
"This University has a wonderful reputation for humanity, for culture, for generosity as do the citizens of this ancient noble city. I believe it will continue because you have now become a University of Sanctuary offering scholarships to people who come here for many reasons to seek safety, sanctuary and learning. And you, the citizens of this city, will be supporting them and I hope will continue to support them."
The University has indeed continued to develop its support for sanctuary seekers, such as through expanding its range of academic sanctuary scholarships, spearheading much needed research into trauma-informed ESOL pedagogy, working closely with local and national partners to offer joined up services, supporting educational projects such as Bright Path Futures and the RefugEAP Programme which place well-being and thriving at their core, running a flagship annual series of events entitled Breaking Barriers Refugee Week, and establishing a Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit to continue to take this work forward.
These activities are well aligned with the University’s Citizens of Change agenda and its strategic direction and values – to be inclusive, inspiring and impactful. We are also pleased that much of our work in this area contributes to a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.