Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

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

In February 2020, King’s was named the first Refugees Welcome University by community organising charity Citizens UK. As part of our commitment to support refugees, King’s has been working with Citizens UK, the Home Office and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to become the first university to be accredited as a Community Sponsor as part of the UK Refugee Community Sponsorship Scheme. Once fully approved, we will resettle a vulnerable refugee family who have been identified by the UNHCR on the basis of their protection need.

The King’s refugee sponsorship scheme will provide an extraordinary opportunity for a refugee student, who has been displaced as a result of the Syrian conflict, and their family to find a new and welcoming home in London, and for the student to attend King’s to complete an undergraduate degree. The student will have successfully completed a foundation course through one of the flagship initiatives in our Sanctuary Programme.

Find out more about the King's refugee sponsorship scheme

Find out more about Community Sponsorship

In February 2020, Citizens UK named 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

King’s leads the Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA), which was formed to meet the educational needs of a mobile and digitally literate refugee population in Jordan and Lebanon. The partnership consists of King’s, 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 delivers blended foundation and short courses and has launched seven bespoke courses on FutureLearn, designed by King’s Online and King’s faculties. This includes English Elementary, English Intermediate, English for Healthcare, Introduction to Nursing, Business, Entrepreneurship, Digital Skills and Engineering. So far, over 13,000 self-identifying refugees and disadvantaged young people have participated in one of these courses, and more than 900,000 learners have enrolled onto one of the PADILEIA courses to gain competencies essential to business management, entrepreneurship, nursing and digital skills. In addition, some of the courses have been included in the Department for Education’s Skills Toolkit and the Grow stronger with Google initiative, allowing them to reach significantly more beneficiaries.

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-eight scholarships .

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

In January 2020, the Migration Museum embarked on a collaborative residency with King’s Arts and Humanities Research Institute (AHRI), beginning with its Annual Public Lecture and building on several successful collaborations, including a joint project exploring the use of virtual reality and augmented reality in museums. Although the physical residency was paused due to COVID-19 and the temporary closure of the museum and King's campuses,  academics, students and those at the museum were able to continue to work together virtually.

King’s academics and the Migration Museum have created pathways to mutual benefit that include a joint funding application and publications. These will provide insights into new forms of creative public engagement and new ways to authentically capture peoples’ stories, making academic research more accessible, while building meaningful relationships with people and communities.

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.

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.