University pledges to offer a hundred Sanctuary Awards to displaced people worldwide

(Credit: University of Leicester)

University of Leicester’s Sanctuary Seekers Unit is set to roll out one hundred fee-waiver awards for displaced people across the world.

The University is offering the ‘Distance Learning Sanctuary Award as part of its pioneering distance learning programme which allows students to obtain a University of Leicester degree from anywhere in the world. To this end, it will be submitting a pledge as part of the Global Refugee Forum taking place in Geneva, Switzerland this December.

A report by the UNHCR states that at the start of 2023, 110 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide.  Displacement creates significant barriers to accessing higher education.

These awards build on the success of the ‘Distance Learning Sanctuary Scholarship’ launched by the School of History, Politics and International Relations in 2018. Spearheaded by Dr Helen Dexter, who will be submitting this pledge at the Geneva Forum, this is believed to have been the first programme at any UK university that facilitated free access to accredited distance learning postgraduate degrees for displaced people. You can read more about the background to this initiative on the Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit Distance Learning Opportunities web page.

Previous recipients who had all experienced displacement were able to study remotely at the University of Leicester from several locations including the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Uganda, Malaysia and even a refugee camp in Malawi.

More broadly, the University’s distance learning degrees have aided several students from Ukraine who were unable to continue with their studies in their home country.

This next round of Sanctuary awards will be offered over the next three years with an assessment of the scheme’s impact coming in 2025/26.

Schools at the University that will offer scholarships to displaced people include:

  • School of History, Politics and International Relations
  • School of Business
  • School of Education
  • School of Museum Studies
  • Leicester Law School
  • School of Archaeology and Ancient History
  • School of Media, Communications and Sociology

Philip Horspool, the Director of the Centre for International Training and Education at University of Leicester said: “These new awards demonstrate the University of Leicester’s commitment to supporting displaced persons in gaining access to educational opportunities based on their ability and desire to study.” 

Professor Liz Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education at University of Leicester said: “Building on the University of Leicester’s reputation as a pioneer of distance learning, the invaluable work of the Centre for International Training and Education is ensuring that individuals across the world have the opportunity to learn and become Citizens of Change regardless of their circumstances.”