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King’s Sanctuary Programme


The 10-year vision of the Sanctuary Programme is to realise the educational potential of forcibly displaced young people.

The Sanctuary Programme was formed in 2015 in response to the global issue of forced displacement, which affects more than 60 million people worldwide. The programme aims to initiate and lead on projects that create positive opportunities for young people whose education has been disrupted due to being displaced.

The Sanctuary Programme includes a range of projects, including Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA), Sanctuary Scholarships and the King's refugee community sponsorship scheme. The programme also aims to enhance understanding of forced migration among staff and students at King’s and to develop opportunities for them to make a positive contribution.

At its heart, the Sanctuary Programme represents our commitment to serving society and making the world a better place.



Key initiatives

King’s has worked with the Home Office, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Citizens UK and Southwark Council to develop a unique version of the UK Refugee Community Sponsorship Scheme.

The King’s refugee sponsorship scheme will be the first time that a higher education institution will act as a sponsoring community for a refugee student and their family. The UNHCR have identified a family on the basis of their protection need, who we are due to welcome to London in early 2021. The King’s refugee sponsorship scheme will provide an extraordinary opportunity for the whole family to find a new and welcoming home in London, and for the eldest child of the family to attend King’s to complete an undergraduate degree.

Find out more about the King's refugee sponsorship scheme

Find out more about Community Sponsorship

Citizens UK has 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.

The 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.

In addition to a migration research programme and inclusion into the curriculum of issues faced by refugees, King’s offers a scholarship scheme for forced migrants in the UK, leads the development and delivery of educational programmes in the Middle East, and is working to bring a family to the UK under the UK’s Community Sponsorship Scheme.

Find out more about King's accreditation as the first 'Refugees Welcome University'

Find out more about Citizens UK

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 is increasing access to higher education for refugee and disadvantaged host communities in Jordan and Lebanon. PADILEIA’s education offering consists of blended academic programmes, including short online courses, targeted online learning and classroom-based learning. Its target learners are displaced individuals living in Jordan and Lebanon; however, the project has seen thousands of online learners from around the world also benefit.

In June 2018, King’s launched two free short online courses in English on FutureLearn, which learners can join from any device, computer or smartphone with an internet connection. These courses enable refugees and displaced people to resume their studies, learn everyday conversational English, and develop transferable skills for their futures. They also provide a foundation for learners to advance onto higher education programmes. To date, 492 refugee and disadvantaged Jordanian and Lebanese students have completed a King’s College London short course in English. While the course content was specifically designed around the study interests of communities in Jordan and Lebanon, they are open to all people in the region and beyond. There are currently 54,097 learners on the English courses worldwide.

The PADILEA partnership also runs two 8-month foundation programmes in Jordan and Lebanon for over 100 students a year, led by the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and Al Al-Bayt University in Jordan, alongside custom-made online study programs using massive open online courses (MOOCs) and blended activities run by Kiron Open Higher Education.

Find out more about PADILEIA

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.

One of the most recent recipients said: ‘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!’ 

Find out more about the Sanctuary Scholarships here

Find out more about support available at King’s for forced migrant students

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.

Find out more about the Children into Citizens Campaign

Find out more about the Citizenship Payment Plan

King's Student Action for Refugees (KCL STAR) is a student-run organisation that aims to raise awareness of refugee issues and promote the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into society. STAR volunteers work at three programmes for students from refugee backgrounds in London, including homework clubs and an outreach programme focusing on how to apply to university in the UK.

Find out more about KCL STAR

King's Legal Clinic offers free legal advice to students and staff at King’s and members of the public, including people with a forced migration background. The Clinic is run in partnership with Duncan Lewis Immigration and Asylum Clinic.

Find out more about King's Legal Clinic

The Migration Museum has embarked on a collaborative residency with King’s Arts and Humanities Research Institute (AHRI). The Migration Museum will provide King’s with insight into creative public engagement, assisting in making academic research more accessible and helping King’s become a truly civic university. The Museum will also share their experiences of capturing peoples’ stories and creating meaningful maintained relationships with people and communities. In return, AHRI will provide the Museum with academic oversight, steering, evaluation and support, as well as guidance and expertise on the museum’s academic direction.

Find out more about the Migration Museum

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.

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.

Find out more:

Migration Research Group

Centre for Migration and Resettlement

Moving Hearts

Enacting border security in the digital age

Migrant Voices in London


Making a difference

Forced migration particularly impacts young people, disrupting their education and potentially creating a ‘lost generation’ with few prospects. To help prevent this scenario from occurring, King’s will continue to harness its expertise in education, online resources, existing international partnerships, knowledge of the affected regions, and ability to initiate and lead on projects that create positive opportunities for forcibly displaced young people.

The Sanctuary Programme also supports the meaningful contributions that the King’s community can make. As forced migration affects people locally as well as across the world, everyone at King’s can make a difference.