World Refugee Day: transforming lives through education

On World Refugee Day, the University of Leicester is celebrating the transformative power of education to change lives, and the diversity that enriches the student population and staff.

As one of just 15 UK universities awarded University of Sanctuary status, Leicester has supported more than 70 refugees that have come to the UK, by providing pre-sessional English lessons. Earlier this year, Leicester celebrated the graduation of Mohammad Darjoul, a refugee who left Sudan to come to the UK.

In addition, the University has enabled academics fleeing conflict to teach in the UK, and has offered students in refugee camps access to education through online distance learning programmes. 

Phil Horspool, Director of the English Language Teaching Unit at the University of Leicester, said: "The University of Leicester has a strong history of supporting refugees and making education accessible to all, building upon the legacy left by the Attenborough family, who took in two Jewish refugee children during the Second World War.

“In becoming a University of Sanctuary, Leicester is striving to make itself a place that is understanding towards the needs of refugees and asylum seekers, is welcoming to them and provides opportunities through a range of initiatives.

"So far, more than 80 students have completed modules with us and we are proud to have welcomed our first graduate."

After being awarded a Sanctuary scholarship from the School of History, Politics and International Relations, the University has a student studying for a master’s degree from a refugee camp in Malawi through distance learning.

Speaking about his experience studying at the University of Leicester, Mohammad Darjoul, said: "I have faced some obstacles to access education in the UK as I came from a different educational background and non-English speaking country, obstacles including English language and financial support that could be a future block and prevent many people like me from accessing education in this country, but fortunately all these obstacles were removed by the help and support that the University of Leicester is offering through the English Language Teaching Unit and the student services."

The Attenborough family has a special connection with the University of Leicester which dates back over 90 years. Frederick Attenborough was appointed as the second Principal of University College, Leicester (later to become the University of Leicester) in 1932, and in 1939 the family adopted Helga and Irene Bejach, two Jewish refugees orphaned by the war.