Forced Migration Network News and Events

27 Oct 2021
Compassion is a major value at Winchester: image of a refugee camp to illustrate our Forced Migration Network

Recent news and events from the Forced Migration Network, a network of academics, research students and practitioners from across the University and beyond, involved in research, teaching, outreach and support relating to asylum seekers and refugees, as part of our University of Sanctuary remit.

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

2021 news and events

3 November 2021: The Afghanistan Crisis and Forced Migration. Experiences, Insights and Responsibilities

This year’s escalating violence in Afghanistan has forced almost 400,000 people to leave their homes. Of these uprooted and displaced Afghans, 80% are women and children. They join the 2.9 million Afghans who, by the end of 2020, were already internally displaced.

This seminar offered us an opportunity to examine the nature and consequences of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to reflect on how the world might best respond to the ongoing crisis of violence and forced displacement in Afghanistan and beyond.

This was a hybrid event with Gulwali Passarlay, author of The Lightless Sky: An Afghan Refugee Boy’s Journey of Escape to A New Life in Britain in person, and a live video link with Fereshteh Ganjavi, an Afghan refugee who founded Elena’s Light, a charity that works to help build brighter futures for refugee women and children.

For enquiries, contact Dr Wayne Veck.

August 2021: The University and Student Union’s joint statement on the situation in Afghanistan

We are deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and the impact it will have on members of our community, particularly those with family and friends still in the country. We also acknowledge those members of staff who may have served or worked in Afghanistan themselves or had family members who have, and the impact this situation may be having on you. Alongside other Universities of Sanctuary, we stand in solidarity with those impacted and will continue to welcome Afghan students, academics, and researchers seeking sanctuary with compassion. We have been working closely with our partners to support those at risk both in the UK and Afghanistan. Read the full statement.

2020 news and events 

Sept 2020: FMN hosts webinar on refugee education

On 3 September, Dr Wayne Veck presented the webinar Voices in Refugee Education - Values, Possibilities and Practice.

We live in a world where some 70.8 million people have been forced to flee from their homes and are now living their lives in the condition of internal or external displacement (UNHCR 2019). Displaced children are significantly more likely than non-refugee children to be excluded from schooling. What does the experience of exclusion mean for these children, and what might we hope for if we envision their inclusion in education? Webinar themes were:

Each contributor to this webinar had something critical, practical and hopeful to say about how we might counter hostility and indifference to young refugees and create inclusive communities in our schools and beyond.

Keynote Speakers were Mr John Binama, Professor Fabio Dovigo, Mr Gulwali Passarlay and Dr Halleli Pinson

June 2020: Forced Migration Network highlights its knowledge exchange activity for Refugee Week 2020

Refugee Week is an annual UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees. It is timed in the week around World Refugee Day, which this year is 20 June. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FMN is unable to organise its usual events such as the Family Fun Day for refugee families in the region, a collaboration with the Rural Refugee Network. However, keen to reach out as always, and to share our news, the Network has taken to Twitter.

“We are missing welcoming our refugee friends to the University for outreach events this year", said FMN lead Dr Terri Sandison. "However, we will be welcoming new students who are recipients of our Sanctuary Award for undergraduate study in September and we look forward to connecting with refugees and those who work with them via social media. We have been working hard and have much news to share."

Join the Forced Migration Network on (UOWforRefugees) for our Tweets of the Day during Refugee Week (15-21 June).

May 2020: International webinar addresses issue of children vulnerable to educational exclusion during the Covid-19 pandemic

On 25 May, inclusive education expert Dr Wayne Veck joined forces with colleagues from the Universities of Vienna and Aarhus to organise an online seminar on the Covid-19 pandemic and the education of children vulnerable to exclusion.

"A recent UNESCO report highlighted that that children worldwide will pay a high price in terms of their education and mental wellbeing", explained Dr Veck. "We were motivated by the report to invite researchers and scholars in the fields of inclusive education, disability studies, refugee education and special education to submit papers that examine how children, already vulnerable to exclusion, might be supported and educated in and through this time."

Over 70 academics and practitioners participated in the seminar, in which 21 papers were presented by leading researchers from across the globe addressing the following themes:

Poverty and exclusion
Patterns of marginalization and the experiences of refugee students
Social and cultural divisions
Schooling and questions of social inclusion
Disability and mental health
Collaboration and relationships in education

for those who missed it, the webinar 'The Covid-19 pandemic and the education of children vulnerable to exclusion' will be made available to watch soon.

Read the UNESCO report Five steps to support education for all in the time of COVID-19.

March 2020: New publication by inclusive education experts highlights the vital importance of trust in the education of refugee children

Young refugees often approach school in their new country with mistrust and insecurity. At the same time, trust is often taken for granted - after all, the children are safe now - and much of the focus tends to be on language as the main barrier to educational progress. Yet these feelings of mistrust can be deep-seated in children seeking refuge, hampering their education.

If schools are to find answers to these issues, they will need to focus their efforts on becoming places worthy of the trust of refugee children, argue FMN members  and  in a new publication in the International Journal of Inclusive Education. This, they contend, requires the creation of a culture in which children and educators are mutually trusted to make unique and distinctive contributions to their schools.

Read the full article

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.


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, 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 about Andrew's Ration Challenge.

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.

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