The University of Leeds should work with LUU to become a University of Sanctuary

Passed: May 2018 (1st)

What's It About?

The world is currently experiencing a global refugee crisis. People are fleeing violence as their lives are disturbed or uprooted by conflict, famine or persecution. Universities, students and staff, have started to think about how they can make their place of education more accessible and welcoming to asylum seekers and refugees, looking at bursaries, fee waivers, access to facilities and clubs, language tandem projects, accommodation and so much more. People with 'refugee status' from the government are able to work in the U.K and access governments funds (eg: a student loan) however, asylum seekers (those waiting to have refugee status confirmed) are not allowed to work and would have to pay international student fees to attend University, making it nearly impossible.

Since refugee crisis hit mainstream news around 2014/15, many Universities welcomed refugees and asylum seekers into their institutions with scholarships so that they could complete or begin their degrees. These 'Sanctuary Scholarships' offer fee waivers and grants to help asylum seekers in particular access Higher Education. After policy was passed at forum in 2016, LUU began a lobbying campaign with academics for the University of Leeds to establish our own 'Sanctuary Scholarships', as we have a large refugee population in Leeds and needed to do more as an institution to help. After two years of lobbying and research, the University has launched a programme offering 3 scholarships with no fees and £10k grant for living costs.

My idea is that the University should now work in partnership with the Union to make sure that these 'Sanctuary Scholarships' are successful for years to come, by working with external organisations in Leeds, such as 'Universities of Sanctuary' which is part of the 'City of Sanctuary' network (of which the City of Leeds is a member) and others to make our institution truly accessible for those who have fled to this country.

Why Have You Proposed It?

The right to access education is something we take for granted, and while it is amazing that our University has established these scholarships, I want this idea to mandate the Union to keep this issue on the agenda over the coming years and encourage the University to work with LUU and national networks in learning good practice and sharing ideas to ensure that we are welcoming and inclusive.

Expires: May 2021 (1st)

Submitted By: Jack Palmer

Officer: Education / Union Affairs / International

Area of Work: Access to Education

Updates

November 2020: Political Engagement Team, Union Affairs Officer and STAR have been invited to future working group meetings- date of next meeting is to be confirmed.

June 2020: Unfortunately there are no major updates to this work over the summer as a result of lots of LUU staff being furloughed (ongoing), as well as the LUU building and campus being closed. As staff return to work and the new Officer team settle into their roles this will be picked up again.

March 2020: STAR passed a new policy at Better University Forum around encouraging the University to provide more sanctuary scholarships.

February 2020: Meeting happened on 10th Dec, reps from STAR were involved, and clarity around the timeline for the next scholarship was given. Meant to go live in March 2020. PET are meeting with members of STAR on 7th Feb to discuss possible Forum idea.

December 2019: Next working group is on 10th December, the Political Engagement Manager has written a paper for Lauren (Union Affairs Officer) to take to the meeting and STAR have been invited as well. PET reflected that the working group itself has been quite slow, so hopefully student engagement will help prod this along.

October 2019: Union Affairs Officer, Lauren, and the Political Engagement Manager are involved in the working group and starting work on data gathering to support application for sanctuary status.

March 2019: Follow up meetings happening across this month. All of the scholarships have been filled for this year. Target is for more places to be offered.

June 2018: The University of Leeds officially announced that they'll be offering Sanctuary Scholarships from the 2018/19 Academic Year! This is a brilliant step towards being recognised as a University of Sanctuary. Lots of LUU's work in this will be to seek to expand the provision and support for scholarships - and a working group has been set up to keep this going.

May 2018: This was part of the Existence is Enough campaign, and the Union Affairs Officer has made early steps.