A network of academic and practitioner staff across the University involved in research, teaching, outreach and support relating to asylum seekers and refugees.

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About us

The Forced Migration Network is a group of University staff and practitioners involved in knowledge exchange, research, teaching, outreach and support relating to asylum seekers and refugees.

Winchester: The South's first University of Sanctuary

In 2018, The University of Winchester received a 'University of Sanctuary' Award from UK charity City of Sanctuary in recognition of its initiatives to welcome refugees and asylum seekers and support them in Higher Education study. University of Sanctuary awards recognise and celebrate organisations' commitment to providing a welcome to asylum seekers and refugees and seeking to foster a culture of awareness and inclusivity. Winchester was the first university in the south of England to become of University of Sanctuary, and we are represented on the national steering group that produced the Universities of Sanctuary resource pack.

Watch the award ceremony video

University of Sanctuary Award group photoo

Left to right: Colette Fletcher (Assistant Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester): Nicola Walters (South West Regional Coordinator, City of Sanctuary); Professor Joy Carter (Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester); Dennis Cooke (Coordinator, City of Sanctuary Southampton); Dr Terri Sandison MBE (Special Projects Manager, University of Winchester), and Sarah-Louise Collins (Director of Widening Participation, University of Winchester).

We are members of the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) Fellowship programme, which helps academics in immediate danger and those forced into exile.

For further links and partnerships, see below.

Contact us

Academic members come from disciplines across our faculties, including: Creative Writing, Performing Arts, Education, Geography, Law and Peace & Reconciliation, as well as Widening Participation, the University Library, Research & Knowledge Exchange, and Volunteering.

Contact the Conveners for more information:

Background image: a refugee camp with 14,000 refugees waiting for aid. Image: Dutch Aid Organisations Collective (Flickr) 

What we do

Aims and objectives

The University of Winchester is a community committed to making a difference, passionate about seeing individuals and communities flourish. Over the last decade we have built up considerable experience and expertise in providing access and support for students who are forced migrants, as well as establishing active collaborations with local and national agencies who work with refugees and people seeking sanctuary in the UK.

The Forced Migration Network is a natural extension and embodiment of this work. Our mission is to follow the key principles of Cities of Sanctuary ‘Learn, Embed, Share’.

We will:

  • Learn from the experience and knowledge of forced migrants, our partners in the community and in the HE sector
  • Embed our learning and experience across the activities of the Network, including in our teaching, research, knowledge exchange and outreach
  • Share our expertise and experience within the membership of the Network and to others across the University and the wider national and global HE community

Widening Participation and Outreach

Summer School

We host an annual Asylum Seekers and Refugees Summer School for young asylum seekers and forced migrants. This 3-day residential experience aims to provide information and support with educational progression and success, as well as an enjoyable social experience. Participants work with current Winchester students, including students who are forced migrants, as well as staff from a range of disciplines. 

Most participants are unaccompanied asylum seekers with limited English skills and who come to us through contacts with local Children's Services departments. The residential provides an insight into higher education through taster sessions and focusses on the future, exploring their hopes and dreams through the creative arts.

The participants get to meet our Sanctuary Scholars, hear their stories and find out how they overcame the many obstacles forced migrants face in reaching higher education. See below for details of the 2019 Summer School. For information on the latest Summer School, see below under News and Events.

Family Fun Days

We organise annual Fun Days for Syrian families, in partnership with the Rural Refugee Network and timed to coincide with national Refugee Week.

Language tuition

Staff volunteers offer English language tuition for Syrian families settled in Winchester.

Sanctuary Awards programme

In 2010, Winchester was one of the first universities in the UK to offer financial support for students seeking sanctuary in the UK to undertake a degree course. Winchester's Sanctuary Award waives tuition fees and offers a bursary of £3000 a year to support the costs of study. Initially for one student per year, the Award is now offered to up to five new students each year. Find out more.

Student involvement

A student-led 'Action for Refugees' group is currently being set up and will be launched in autumn 2019. The FMN plans to work closely with students as their ideas develop.

Access to Higher Education

In November 2019, the University of Winchester joined other UK universities in a new commitment to increase access to Higher Education for refugees and asylum seekers.

Read the full press release

Find out more about our Widening Participation

Knowledge Exchange and Research

The Boat

A high-profile interdisciplinary knowledge exchange project is The Boat, an interdisciplinary Arts Council-funded project aiming to engage young minds on the difficult subject of immigration via an innovative illustrated story book accompanied by a carefully designed set of teaching resources. Led by Prof. Andrew Melrose.

The Boat, image by Stephanie Morris

Improving teaching to improve refugee education

European Early Childhood education (EC) services and schools have to develop deeper knowledge of the complex needs of refugee pupils. Research emphasises that a holistic educational approach can ensure effective enrolment and transition of refugee youth, and that teachers play a key role in implementing it. However, this poses a professional challenge to teachers, as Refugee Education cannot be considered just as a variation of the usual intercultural education programmes. Consequently, both future and in-service teachers need to receive specific training and continual professional development to cope with the new challenges involved in Refugee Education.

Stemming from well-grounded experiences developed in countries with a long-standing tradition on Refugee Education, this project aims to design, implement and disseminate an effective transnational training programme on Refugee Education addressed to preeservice and in-service teachers. The international consortium is made up of five partners from Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and the UK.

Led by Dr Wayne Veck, Julie Wharton and Dr Louise Pagden, and supported by Erasmus+ funding.

The Rwanda Diaspora Youth Partnership Programme

Boys playing football at the Maison Des Jeunes Kimisagara, in Kigali, Rwanda; image Jannik Skorna on Unsplash

The Rwanda Diaspora Youth Partnership Programme, launched on 1 October 2019, is a one-year project exploring how young second-generation Rwandans in the UK might support young people in Rwanda to generate social enterprise and help build a better future for Rwanda. The project is led by FMN members Dr Jen Dickinson, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, and Dr Wayne Veck, Reader in Education. Find out more about the Rwanda Project.

Evaluating the contribution of Diasporic Mentoring Networks (DMNs) for post-displacement youth entrepreneurship

The 1994 Rwandan genocide and subsequent forced displacement of two million refugees generated ongoing economic challenges for Rwanda’s now-burgeoning youth population. However, the human capital embedded in displaced diasporic communities could help address this challenge by generating transnational entrepreneurial investments in locally strategic economic areas.

Working with a Rwandan partner and a UK diaspora partner, this project evaluates whether the support and development of DMNs connecting young Rwandan entrepreneurs to the Rwanda diaspora in the UK can contribute to the creation of high-value ‘opportunity’ entrepreneurial ventures, thereby generating further youth employment and contributing to economic growth.

Led by Dr Jen Dickinson (Principal Investigator) and Dr Wayne Veck.

Related research interests

Members of the Network also have the following related research interests:

  • Refugees and social work
  • Diaspora strategies
  • Transnational citizenship
  • Skilled mobilities
  • South-South migration
  • Peace and reconciliation
  • Approaches to integration
  • Refugee education
  • Mobility and belonging
  • Social inclusion
  • Representation of religious minority groups; the status of women in religious minority groups
  • Borders and boundaries in conflict areas

Postgraduate research

  • Deborah Falconer: Listening, displaced children and teacher education
  • Randa Najjar: Refugee families, schools and cultures of dialogue
  • Christopher Nicholson: Common time to common ground? Music’s role in the communal and individual identity of health and wellbeing for people cast with marginalised identities
  • Julie Wharton: Welcoming schools and the language of inclusion in Schools of Sanctuary

Undergraduate research

  • Isabel Smythe: Media representations of asylum seekers. In collaboration with the Rural Refugee Network.

2018-19 News and Events

Latest news

November 2019: University of Winchester pledges to welcome refugees on World Access to Higher Education Day

The University of Winchester has joined other UK universities on a new commitment to increase access to Higher Education for refugees and asylum seekers. Read the full press release.

Recent events


6 Nov.: MapAction: geographic support for humanitarian decision-making

This talk, presented by the Royal Geographic Society and hosted by the University, described how MapAction deploys rapid response geographic support to natural disasters and other humanitarian situations. Find out more.

4 Sept: First national Universities of Sanctuary Conference

Dr Terri Sandison and two of our Sanctuary Award students are members of the organising group for this conference which attracted participants from universities across the UK. The focus was on forced migrants and their education. The conference heard from leading practitioners from the first 10 designated Universities of Sanctuary and other HEIs and explore ways to work more closely as a sector to improve our own practices and to campaign for a more hospitable environment in the UK.

29-31 Aug.: Residential Summer School for young asylum-seekers and forced migrants

Our third annual 3-day residential experience for 14-18 year old forced migrants. This year we welcomed 25 young people, from Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Tanzania and Afghanistan. This year's residential included workshops on British culture and English language; critical thinking and language; barriers to university; a multimedia workshop, and even a visit to Bournemouth University for a robotics workshop. 

17-23 June: Refugee Week

During RW 2019, the Network used a variety of engaging ways to raise awareness of issue of forced migration across the University community and externally.

On the 22nd, we hosted our annual Family Fun Day, in partnership with the Rural Refugee Network. The day, supported by a team of enthusiastic volunteers including staff, students and colleagues from the Rural Refugee Network, welcomed refugee families placed across Hampshire and the neighbouring counties. Throughout the day children enjoyed the many arts, crafts and sports activities on offer, while older family members had the chance to catch-up with others and share their stories and experiences, as well as talk with University staff and students and to access information about higher education.

Throughout the week, members highlighted various aspects of the FMN's work through an intranet blog, including a reflective contribution from our first CARA Fellow.

Prof. Andrew Melrose, project lead for The Boat, has been taking on the Ration Challenge: for a whole week he consumed no more than a refugee's ration. "I learned a great deal", he said afterwards. "Even from my own comfortable home I could appreciate how meagre this ration box is, and it allowed me some sober reflection time."

Find out more

Compassion at Winchester: a refugee's food ration box

7-8 March: Conference presentation on Partnership Approaches

Dr Terri Sandison co-presented on the topic of ‘Partnership Approaches’ at the Association of Commonwealth Universities Symposium at the University of Edinburgh titled ‘Extending the welcome: Long-term approaches to supporting refugees and at-risk scholars in higher education’. The presentation built on the experience of the University of Winchester as a founder member of the Article 26 Project, which was set up to provide scholarships to support forced migrants who wish to enter UK higher education. It was co-presented with Dr Rebecca Murray, previously Director of Article 26.

Find out more about the conference


In September 2018, the University hosted Boundary Crossing, an international interdisciplinary conference on refugees and social justice. Speakers included Prof. Matthew Gibney, Director of the University of Oxford's Refugee Studies Centre.  

Autumn 2018 saw the project Reimagining the Voyage of St Brendan in Today's World of Homelessness and Refugees. This collaboration between award-winning artist Maz Jackson and University of Winchester Professor Peter Billingham featured an exhibition on St Brendan's voyage, a play titled The Drowned and the Saved, and the symposium Sea Echoes.


Forced displacement and the multitude of social, cultural, economic, psychological and educational issues ensuing from it are embedded in our curriculum. Examples are the modules 'Displaced: Forced migration and refugees today' in our Value Studies programme, and 'Education, inclusion and refugees', part of our Education Studies degree.