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University shows support to sanctuary seekers

City of Sanctuary Supporting Organisation logo

Sanctuary Seekers will be able to benefit from a relaunched scholarship scheme from the University of Reading offering financial support to those hoping to start or continue their education in the UK.

The Sanctuary Scholarships Scheme has been introduced for sanctuary seekers (people with refugee, humanitarian protected or asylum seeker status) in recognition of the disruption to education that displaced people experience.

The Sanctuary Scholarships Scheme will offer up to 12 awards each year, providing opportunities for those taking pre-sessional, undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Paul Inman, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) at the University of Reading, said: “We have a broad and diverse community of staff and students here at the University of Reading and are committed to the City of Sanctuary initiative. We value the rich contribution those seeking sanctuary can make to our institution and life in Reading more generally.

“The Sanctuary Scholarships Scheme will make it easier for those people who have sadly had to flee their home country to access education and build a better life for themselves here in the UK. We look forward to welcoming our scholarship students to campus later this year.”

Maryam Taher, Universities of Sanctuary Coordinator, said: "We are so delighted to hear about the relaunch of these new scholarship opportunities at Reading. The support being offered will help aspiring students feel included, welcome and valued in their community. Students seeking sanctuary have to overcome significant hurdles, this scheme will contribute to a positive change and we are proud of the efforts at Reading to make this possible."

The awards include:

  • 5 fee waivers covering the tuition fees for the University’s 11-week English language programme (starting in June each year) for local applicants - £4,345 in 2021
  • 4 bursary awards of £5,000 for each year of study for new applicants with refugee or humanitarian protection status to undergraduate courses
  • 1 bursary award of £10,000 (pro rata for part-time students) for new applicants with refugee or humanitarian protection status to postgraduate taught courses
  • 1 scholarship comprising of fee waivers and a bursary of £14,200 for each year of study for new applicants with asylum seeker status to undergraduate courses
  • 1 scholarship comprising of fee waivers and a bursary of £14,200 (pro rata for part-time students) for new applicants with asylum seeker status to postgraduate taught courses

Applications for eligible students are now open and the deadlines for these are as follows:

  • Pre-sessional English awards (June 2021 entry): 6 May 2021
  • Undergraduate or postgraduate taught awards (September 2021 entry): 4 July 2021

City of Sanctuary

The Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme is part of the University’s wider commitment to supporting the City of Sanctuary initiative. The University has recently signed the national organisational pledge to City of Sanctuary for the first time and has also renewed its pledge to Reading City of Sanctuary.

Inman continued: “By renewing our Reading City of Sanctuary pledge, and signing the national pledge, we are demonstrating our support for the ‘City of Sanctuary’ vision that the UK should be a welcoming place of safety for all those fleeing violence and persecution.

“As an institution, we want to take this a step further and we are currently working towards achieving the University of Sanctuary Award, which would show a clear commitment to the welcome and inclusion of sanctuary seekers at the University of Reading.”

As part of the University’s work towards achieving a University of Sanctuary award, the University, in conjunction with Reading Refugee Support Group and Reading City of Sanctuary, is setting up Sanctuary Café Walk ‘n’ Talk groups with sanctuary seekers, staff and students on campus. Staff and students will also be able to donate to a ‘Coffee Bank’ for local refugees to access free hot drinks. These sessions will be set up in line with Government restrictions.

Nick Harborne, Chair of Reading City of Sanctuary Steering Group, said: “We are delighted that the University, as a key local institution, is showing leadership in welcoming those of sanctuary seeking background. The scholarships, as well as the wider commitment to work towards a Sanctuary Award, will ensure that people fleeing war and persecution are able to reach their full potential. We look forward to working closely with the University in the future.”

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