Dundee awarded University of Sanctuary status
Published on 19 October 2022
The University of Dundee has been awarded University of Sanctuary status, joining a network of institutions across the United Kingdom working to develop support for those displaced by humanitarian crises
Image: Sabir Zazai, Honorary President of City of Sanctuary UK and Chair of Scottish Refugee Council, and Professor Wendy Alexander
Universities of Sanctuary are part of the City of Sanctuary UK initiative to ensure our nation is a welcoming place of safety for all.
As a University of Sanctuary, Dundee is committed to engaging and supporting sanctuary seekers. Dozens of students from war-torn regions have joined the University this year thanks to the award of a record number of Humanitarian Scholarships.
Bayan Alhasani (29), who is Palestinian, is one student who has travelled to Dundee under the scholarship. More information on Bayan’s journey can be found further below.
Professor Wendy Alexander, Vice-Principal International at the University, said, “We are delighted to be recognised as a University of Sanctuary.
“The University of Dundee provides a place of safety, solidarity and empowerment for people seeking sanctuary. We have welcomed humanitarian scholars from around the world, including 14 individuals this year who have been displaced by the war in Ukraine, and we will continue to work to support those affected by crises around the world.
“We join a network of fellow universities across the UK who are playing a vital role in supporting those seeking sanctuary.”
Gün Orgun, City of Sanctuary Coordinator for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said, “We look forward to the university building on it’s good work and developing even closer links with local refugee communities and support groups.
“The support of universities in welcoming those seeking sanctuary is vital to ensuring the UK offers a safe and supportive environment for those in need at times of crisis.”
The award of University of Sanctuary status comes after a rigorous assessment of Dundee’s work.
The assessment panel emphasised that Dundee is:
- providing a generous and evolving scholarship programme
- giving agile and responsive student support
- arranging welcome and touch point meetings throughout the year
- providing impressive teaching across the University on forced migration
- welcoming student volunteering and campaigning
- having a well-established working group with wide membership including students and scholarship holders
- offering contextual admissions and legal support
- providing pre-sessional English language courses
- progressing with initiatives such as involvement with the Council for At-Risk Academics, Scottish Human Rights Defender Fellowship and Nablus twinning
- supporting this activity from all levels of the organisation
Bayan Alhasani, Humanitarian Scholarship holder
Dozens of students from war-torn regions have joined the University of Dundee this year thanks to the award of a record number of Humanitarian Scholarships.
Bayan Alhasani (29), who is Palestinian, is one student who has travelled to Dundee under the scholarship. Bayan is from Gaza, which is currently an Israeli-occupied territory.
Growing up and living amongst the Palestine-Israeli conflict saw Bayan face many difficulties, including his family home being partially destroyed by bombings on three separate occasions in the last 15 years.
Despite the hardship he and his family faced, Bayan thrived academically and completed an undergraduate degree in civil engineering. Looking to give himself the best chance to further his education, he began searching for scholarships abroad and eventually came across the University’s Humanitarian Scholarship.
“I first started looking for scholarships at a very difficult time,” said Bayan. “We were under siege, in the middle of a pandemic, and I had lost my job. Nothing was guaranteed.
“In May of 2021 Gaza was under attack and our home was partially destroyed. A lot of our savings had already gone into rebuilding it over the years. Without a scholarship there was little chance of me being able to further my studies.
“I found out I had been accepted to study a masters in Sustainability and Water Security at Dundee that same year, just as the 2021 war ended.”
As part of the Humanitarian Scholarship, Bayan receives full tuition fees and a stipend for accommodation and living costs.
He arrived in Dundee earlier this year after a difficult journey from Gaza, and has only positive things to say about the University and the people of the city.
“From the second I arrived in Dundee I have been met with kindness,” he said. “My journey to Dundee was tough but when I finally arrived, I was immediately met with warmth.
“The team at the University are fantastic and are always happy to help. I’ve been blown away by the support I have received from the Student Services team and beyond.
“I’ve spoken with some other Palestinian students elsewhere and while they also receive support from their institutions, nothing I’ve heard so far matches what I have received in Dundee.
“It is very clear to me that Dundee has acceptance of other people and truly care.”
As a University of Sanctuary, Dundee is committed to engaging and supporting sanctuary seekers. This includes efforts to increase understanding of issues surrounding asylum seekers and refugees, to provide a welcoming environment for sanctuary students, and to work with individuals and communities beyond the campus to promote the principles of sanctuary.
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