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King's is proud to be the first 'Refugees Welcome University'

Earlier this year, Citizens UK announced King’s College London as the UK’s first ‘Refugees Welcome University’, in recognition of its contribution to understanding and responding to the global issue of forced displacement and helping to realise the educational potential of refugees.

Led by its member organisations, Citizens UK empowers communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good. They do this by teaching their members community organising techniques so that they can have an impact on the issues that matter to them. They also develop the leadership capacity of their members to achieve victories that change lives and transform communities.

Citizens UK have been at the forefront of campaigns to ensure the UK becomes a more welcoming country to migrants and refugees. Their Refugees Welcome accreditation scheme recognises universities that have made a commitment to welcome forced migrants into their institution and community, offer a comprehensive programme of education and research on migration, and develop an action plan to improve the lives of forced migrants in the UK.

A whole university approach

In addition to a migration research programme and inclusion into the curriculum of issues faced by migrants, King’s offers a scholarship scheme for forced migrants in the UK, leads the development and delivery of PADILEIA (an online educational programme for forcibly displaced people in the Middle East), and is working to bring a family to London under the UK’s Community Sponsorship Scheme.

Forced migration particularly impacts young people, disrupting their education and potentially creating a ‘lost generation’ with limited prospects. King’s is committed to building new partnerships with refugees and their families that offer important new opportunities for renewal, sustainment, and growth that are of great benefit to both the families and the UK. – Professor Bronwyn Parry, Head of the School of Global Affairs and Director of the Sanctuary Programme, at King’s College London

Becoming a community sponsor

King’s is preparing to bring a refugee family to London under the UK’s Community Sponsorship Scheme. This new sponsorship project, which is led by Professor Bronwyn Parry, Head of the School of Global Affairs and Director of the Sanctuary Programme, and Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, brings together experts from the UK Home Office, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHRC) and partners in the region to resettle a displaced student and their family eligible for resettlement in the UK.

King’s will become the sponsoring community, providing the family with structured all-round support and a fully-funded undergraduate scholarship to enable the student to further their education at a world-leading university. Working to ensure education remains a right for all, these innovative programmes give those most adversely affected by conflict and displacement unrivalled opportunities to rebuild their lives and careers and to fulfil their potential.

While the UNCHR scheme has been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, King’s has continued our preparations and we hope to welcome the student and their family to London later this year.

PADILEIA (Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access)

The Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA) was formed to meet the educational needs of a mobile and digitally literate refugee population in Jordan and Lebanon. With a shared interest in innovative digital pedagogy, student support and delivery, PADILEIA consists of three universities – King’s College London, Al Al-Bayt University in Jordan, and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon – as well as Kiron Open Higher Education (a digital-education NGO) and FutureLearn (a leader in online learning).

PADILEIA increases access to higher education for refugee and disadvantaged host communities in Jordan and Lebanon through blended foundation and short courses. The programme has launched five bespoke courses on FutureLearn, designed by King’s Online and King’s faculties, which includes English Elementary, English Intermediate, English for Healthcare, Introduction to Nursing, Business and Entrepreneurship. There are over 4,000 refugee-status learners studying on these courses and over 150,000 learners worldwide which suggests that the courses are reaching significantly more target beneficiaries.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Jordan- and Lebanon-based foundation courses and the PADILEIA mentorship program have been moved fully online. Facilitation for short courses has also moved online.

Sanctuary Scholarships

Since 2016, King’s has provided Sanctuary Scholarships for students who are asylum seekers or have been granted limited leave to remain and have no access to Student Finance. The scholarships comprise full tuition fee support and help with living costs per academic year of an undergraduate programme. To date, King’s has offered twenty scholarships – eleven in previous years and nine for September 2019.

This Sanctuary Scholarship is hope renewed for me and my family. Words can’t truly express my gratitude, it is a blessing and a fresh start for me. My aspirations to go to a world-renowned university and begin to realise my career ambitions are being fulfilled and it all feels like a dream!– Sanctuary Scholarship recipient

A refugee and migration studies curriculum

The topic of migration and refugees features in curricula across the university through both standard modules and innovative learning initiatives. The latter includes the development of the Service module ‘Migration, Social Justice and Community Organising’, which combines class-based learning with societal impact as students develop and run a community organising campaign with Citizens UK. In addition, the Migration Research Group is involved in three Erasmus+ funded education and training projects which offer a range of one-week professional development training course on refugee inclusion in Italy, Spain and Greece for King’s staff.

Migration and refugee research

King’s scholars develop world class research that impacts on the issues of refugees, migration and borders through a range of research centres, projects and events, which actively engage King’s staff and students as well as the wider community. King’s hosts the Migration Research Group and the Centre for Migration and Resettlement. Recent projects include Moving Hearts, Enacting border security in the digital age and Migrant Voices in London.

Children into Citizens Campaign

King’s supports Citizens UK’s Children into Citizens Campaign, which is calling on the Home Office to reduce the application fee for child citizenship from £1012 to cost price. In addition to supporting this campaign, King’s has been instrumental in setting up the Citizenship Payment Plan (administered by EdAid), which provides interest free loans to parents so that they can pay for their children’s citizenship applications and avoid risky and expensive debt.

Through its initiatives that not only provide educational resources for refugees but in engaging staff, students and the wider community, King’s is leading the way in how universities can provide support for refugees. King’s is tackling this issue at a local and global level and we look forward to continuing our work with them.– James Asfa, Lead Organiser for Citizen’s UK South London

These are just some of the ways that King’s is contributing to understanding and responding to the global issue of forced displacement and helping to realise the educational potential of refugees.

Find out more on the King’s Sanctuary Programme webpage.

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