Higher education institutions in the UK have a long tradition of providing sanctuary for academics and young people forced to flee conflict and persecution and find safety elsewhere.

To build further on support measures already in place, the University of Aberdeen has committed to become a 'University of Sanctuary' and work in partnership with City of Sanctuary, The Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) and other partner initiatives to inspire and support universities to develop a culture of welcome within their own institutions and their wider communities.  

There are three guiding principles that underpin the commitment to becoming a University of Sanctuary network:

  • Learn: learning about what it means to be seeking sanctuary, both in general (for the community in which the university is situated), and specifically (in the context of HE and the campus environment).
  • Embed: taking positive action to embed concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within the institution including, but not limited to, the student body, students’ union, departments, faculties, senior management, administrative and campus management staff. To take steps to ensure this progress outlasts the current student population.
  • Share: sharing your vision, achievements, what you have learned, and good practice with other universities, the local community and beyond.

At present a small working group has been created made up from interested parties from across the university and headed by Abbe Brown, Dean for Student Support. The working group is engaged with the Learn principle and current work involves:

  • working with the wider community, such as Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray Council and with Grampian Regional Equality Council and are exploring how to build these further, for example through our Library.
  • The creation of a Community of Practice (CoP) for staff and students. The CoP meets quarterly, welcoming guest speakers, such as Dr Sam May who supported us to explore international relations and the STAR project from the University of Glasgow. Events are advertised through the staff and student newsletters.
  • Drawing together relevant research and teaching from across the University

For Further Information:

If any member of the university community wishes to engage with the team then they would be delighted to hear from you at sanctuary@abdn.ac.uk.

If a member of staff has been approached by a potential student who may fall under this remit, please contact/refer the student to the Access & Articulation Team at accessaberdeen@abdn.ac.uk in the first instance and the team will support and refer onwards as needed.

If you are thinking of joining us as a student, for details on admission and available support see Asylum Seekers & Refugees | Study Here | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)

If you have started your studies at a University in another country and are looking for transfer opportunities, please contact accessaberdeen@abdn.ac.uk

If you are an existing student please see Students with Specific Support Needs | Students | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk).  

If you are a refugee or asylum seeker and are looking for more information on professional pathways, please contact sanctuary@abdn.ac.uk

Resources to learn more about University of Sanctuary and the support of students falling under its auspices are available via the University of Sanctuary.