Somerville, Mansfield recognized as University Colleges of Sanctuary – The Oxford Student



Image Description: A photo of Somerville College overlooking their main quad.

Mansfield College and Somerville College were recognized as University Colleges of Sanctuary for their commitment to fostering a culture of inclusion and awareness on campus for those seeking sanctuary, including refugees and asylum seekers.

The award is presented by the UK charity City of Sanctuary to recognize cities and universities that have put measures in place to help members understand what it means for others to seek refuge.

Only 1% of those seeking refuge enter higher education, and funding is a major barrier. The two colleges each launched a fully funded postgraduate scholarship starting in the 2021-2022 academic year. For example, the Somerville College Oxford Refugee Scholarship is a fully funded scholarship that will help a student pursue a Masters degree in Oxford. It was funded by alumni contributions, the college, and a fee waiver from the central university.

Both colleges are used to supporting people in search of sanctuary. In the 1930s, Jewish academics fled Nazi Germany to Somerville College. For example, the classic Lotte Labowsky was a member of the college until his death in 1991.

Mansfield College, headed by eminent human rights lawyer Helen Mountfield QC, is home to the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at Oxford Law School. Researchers at the institute study modern human rights issues, including the refugee crisis. Last year, the college also announced seven new Kofi Annan scholarships with the university’s Weidenfeld-Hoffmann scholarship and leadership program to give students from developing and emerging economies the opportunity to study at Oxford.

“Obtaining this recognition is a brilliant step for both colleges and it was great to work with the University on this initiative. We look forward to doing even more to live up to our values ​​and honor our long tradition of supporting those seeking sanctuary, ”said Jan Royall, Principal of Somerville College.

“This reflects the open, inclusive and progressive perspective of our entire university community at Mansfield, and our commitment to living out its values ​​by making education and ideas available to a wide range of people without discrimination,” said Helen Mountfield QC.

To gain recognition from the City of Sanctuary Charity, organizations must educate their members about what it means to seek a sanctuary, both in general and in higher education. They must also take positive measures to integrate the concepts of reception, security and inclusion in their establishment. The city of Oxford has also been recognized by the charity as a sanctuary city.

Image courtesy of Brigade Piron via Wikimedia Commons, CC SA 3.0.

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