Following a joint application with Somerville College, Mansfield has gained recognition from the UK charity City of Sanctuary, after demonstrating an ongoing commitment to nurturing a culture of inclusivity and awareness on campus for those seeking sanctuary (which includes refugees and asylum seekers), as well as in the wider community.

To achieve recognition, which cities and universities can apply for, as well as university colleges, organisations must demonstrate how they have put measures in place to enable their members to learn about what it means for others to seek sanctuary, both generally and within in a higher education context.

They must also take positive action to embed the key concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion across their institution and share their vision, achievements, heritage and good practice within their community and beyond.

People seeking sanctuary face many barriers in attending university, with only 1% entering higher education. The colleges have established a new Sanctuary scholarship as part of their efforts to redress this imbalance, providing a fully funded place at each institution for a student seeking sanctuary.

Under the scheme, all living costs are covered by the colleges, while Oxford University will lend financial support by waiving tuition fees for the scholars. At Mansfield, we are delighted that the Scholarship has been generously supported by the Council of Lutheran Churches, re-establishing the College’s historic partnership with the Lutheran church.

Mansfield College, which has as its Principal, human rights lawyer Helen Mountfield KC, is home to the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, which is part of Oxford University’s Law Faculty. The Institute’s researchers study pressing contemporary human rights issues, including the refugee crisis. In 2020, Mansfield announced seven new Kofi Annan scholarships within the University of Oxford’s Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Scholarship & Leadership Programme, aimed at providing outstanding university graduates and professionals from developing and emerging economies with the opportunity to study at Oxford.

“I am delighted and proud that Mansfield College Oxford has been recognised as a University College of Sanctuary.

This reflects the open, inclusive and progressive outlook of our entire academic community at Mansfield, and our commitment to living its values by making education and ideas available to a broad range of people without discrimination.

We look forward to playing an active role in the University of Sanctuary network; embedding a culture of inclusion and support for those who have been forced to migrate from their homes to seek sanctuary in the UK; and welcoming our first Sanctuary Scholar in October, thanks to the generous support of the Council of Lutheran Churches.”

Helen Mounfield KC

Principal, Mansfield College