University of Sussex pledges to welcome refugees

The University of Sussex has signed two co-ordinated pledges to welcome and support refugees. 

Sussex is one of 15 universities to have signed a UK pledge, timed to coincide with World Access to Higher Education Day (today, 26 November), alongside a global statement of support coordinated by the UN refugee committee, UNHCR. 

In signing the pledges, the University of Sussex is committing to continue and expand its work to open up its campus to refugees and is calling on fellow institutions to take similar steps. 

The pledges will be submitted to the first ever Global Refugee Forum in December 2019. 

Education is life changing but only three per cent of young refugees globally have access to higher education, compared with 37 per cent of all young people. This gap persists even though it is widely acknowledged that higher education is the key to better employment, greater self-reliance, sustainable livelihoods, leadership and more. 

Sussex has joined together with institutions all over the world to commit to change this. 

Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: “We are proud to stand with organisations around the world who share the values we have cherished since our founding. 

“We were the first British university to offer scholarships to victims of apartheid through our Mandela Scholarships, and these continue to this day. 

“By signing this pledge, we are reaffirming our commitment to providing an education lifeline for oppressed people across the globe.” 

The University of Sussex has specific scholarships to support forced migrants and at-risk academics and has a large number of researchers working on refugee issues, including through the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. 

STAR’s CEO Emily Crowley said: “We’ve been campaigning for improved access to university for refugees and people seeking asylum for over 10 years. Thanks to the commitment of these institutions we are seeing our dream of a society where refugees have equal access to education become reality. 

“We see first-hand how life changing being able to go to university can be on an individual level, but we also know that everyone benefits if you give people the opportunity to be part of society and contribute.” 

Ben Margolis from City of Sanctuary said:More people than ever before are living forcibly displaced from their homes and seeking sanctuary elsewhere. 

“Universities have a vital role to play in ensuring the forced migrants are able to access Higher Education, and also in working with their local community to improve the practice and culture of welcome.” 

An informal working group of staff and students across the University of Sussex are working on an application to become a University of Sanctuary, as part of the national City of Sanctuary scheme. This is an initiative to recognise the good practice of universities that welcome people seeking sanctuary into their communities and seek to foster a culture of awareness and inclusivity. If you would like to find out more about this initiative or join the working group, please contact Dr Judith Townend in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology. 

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By: James Hakner
Last updated: Tuesday, 26 November 2019