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 diverse group of University staff and students and external practitioners engaged in knowledge exchange, research, teaching, outreach and support relating to asylum seekers and refugees. Academic members come from disciplines across our faculties, including Performing Arts, Education, Geography, Psychology, Law and Peace & Reconciliation, as well as Widening Participation and Outreach, the University Library, Volunteering, Research & Knowledge Exchange, and Community Engagement. External members include the Wessex Global Health Network, and we work closely with the Rural Refugees Network. 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.

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

Joy Carter and Nicola Walters standing with University of Sanctuary certificate

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).

Contact us, follow us

Contact the Conveners for more information:

Follow the Forced Migration Network on Twitter

News and Events

To find out more about our latest news and events, explore the FMN News and Events page.

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 £5000 a year to support the costs of study. The Award is offered to two new students each year. Find out more about our Sanctuary Awards.

Student involvement

A student-led 'Action for Refugees' group is currently being set up. 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

Research and Knowledge Exchange

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.

Religion and Migration

Since 2016, in partnership with the European Council of Religious Leaders, the Winchester Centre for Religion, Reconciliation and Peace has been carrying out a project examining multi-religious approaches to integration. The project is designed to test anecdotal assumptions that in some circumstances there are tangible benefits to faith-based organisations and religious communities working together on integration projects and initiatives. It also examined the benefit of multi-religious participation host communities.

Drs Lyck-Bowen and Owen have published an article detailing the results of the first phase of the project: Lyck-Bowen, Majbritt & Owen, Mark (2018) A multi-religious response to the migrant crisis in Europe: A preliminary examination of potential benefits of multi-religious cooperation on the integration of migrants, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 45:1, 21-41.

Recent projects

The Boat

A high-profile recent project is The Boat. Designed to engage young minds on the difficult subject of immigration via an illustrated storybook accompanied by a set of teaching resources, this Arts Council England-funded project was a collaboration between the University's Prof. Andrew Melrose (Creative Writing) and Jonathan Rooke (Education), illustrator Stephanie Morris and a number of primary schools.

Visit the The Boat website


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

Highlight PGR project

Undergraduate research

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


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.