Refugee Week highlights importance of creating chances for all

27 Jun 2024
Five people sitting in semi circle in front of screen

The University of Winchester showed its commitment to the education needs of refugees and asylum seekers with a week of events.

On Wednesday 19 June the University hosted its second annual Refugee Education Conference attended by around 50 practitioners online and in person.

The day included a teachers panel, workshops, expert speakers and student panel hosted by Refugee Education UK.

Part of the conference was an online assembly with renowned local poet and refugee Majid Dhana (also known as JidosReality) attended by pupils from 12 schools. A further 43 classes logged in to watch online and the event is estimated to have reached 1,200 young people.

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This session’s theme was ‘Our Home’, and KS2 & KS3 students were asked to explore and express their unique perspectives on what home means to them.

Schools involved have been invited to select up to five poems produced by their pupils to be judged by Majid.

The winning poem from each school will be exhibited permanently in the St Alphege Building at the University and the young poetry stars will be invited to join Majid and a small group of young refugee poets on campus for the refugee poetry celebration day on 17 July.

The conference was well received by attendees. Praise for the event included:

“I found the whole day so interesting and learnt so much in a friendly and supportive environment…”

“I found it very interesting as I support Ukrainian students and the conference allowed me to relate to how other educational organisations work with refugees.”

“We need more Compassionate staff in our education system.”

Two days before the conference the University hosted a webinar entitled ‘Inclusive Higher Education for People Forced from their Homes’. Almost 50 signed up to join the event including colleagues from North America and New Zealand.

Following the webinar, presenters have been invited to contribute to an edited collection of papers on the topic of inclusive higher education for refugees.

Sarah Harder-Collins, Deputy Director, Student Support and Success at the University, said: “We believe that education is about creating opportunities for all and as a University of Sanctuary we are striving to help those who have been forced from their homes and homelands by circumstances beyond their control.

“With events like these we hope to encourage everyone in involved in education at all levels to extend a welcome to asylum seekers and refugees.”

About the Winchester University of Sanctuary Network

Winchester received a 'University of Sanctuary' Award from UK charity City of Sanctuary in 2018 in recognition of its initiatives to welcome refugees and asylum seekers and support their studies. It was the first university in the south of England to gain sanctuary status.

The University’s Sanctuary Network, the first in the UK, is made up of staff and students and external practitioners engaged in knowledge exchange, research, teaching, outreach and support relating to asylum seekers and refugees. 

In September Winchester will became one of three British universities, the others are Edinburgh and Exeter, to offer, in partnership with Refugee Education UK, a new Sanctuary Scholarship to a displaced person from outside the UK. The award will include a fee waiver for three years and assistance with accommodation. 

The University currently supports eight a Ukrainian sanctuary scholars who sought sanctuary in the UK as a result of the Russian invasion or who were in the UK at the time of the invasion and wish to remain in here until they can return home safely. 

The University also offers Sanctuary Awards, supporting two students a year seeking sanctuary in the UK to undertake a degree course. The Award offers a full tuition fee waiver and a bursary of £5,000 a year to support the costs of study. To date, 56 students from 17 countries have received awards, with 29 graduating so far.




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