UEA was awarded University of Sanctuary status in January 2018 in recognition of our offer to sanctuary seekers. UEA promotes a culture of inclusivity, respect and sanctuary through a broad range of schemes and activities, including scholarship programmes, education activities and events, and collaborations with local organisations and groups.
UEA is proud to be recognised as a University of Sanctuary, and is one of only a handful of universities in the UK and Ireland to receive the accolade to date. UEA staff and students have shown an ongoing commitment to increasing understanding of asylum and refugee concerns, and welcoming sanctuary seekers into our university community.
The Universities of Sanctuary initiative grew out of the City of Sanctuary movement. City of Sanctuary is a non-governmental movement which promotes action to foster greater inclusion and integration in the UK, with a key focus on supporting refugees and asylum seekers. It holds the vision that ‘our nations will be welcoming places of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution’. Succeeding in this vision requires us to promote greater understanding and recognition of the ways in which people seeking sanctuary enrich society.
There are currently more than 70 cities and towns across the UK actively involved in the movement, including Norwich which joined in September 2016. Norwich City of Sanctuary is a coalition of local refugee support groups and community representatives. UEA is actively engaged with the Norwich City of Sanctuary steering group.
City of Sanctuary have created a University of Sanctuary resource pack which is available to view here.
Anti-racism statement from UEA’s University of Sanctuary group, 2020
Our purpose as a group is to provide a space of security, respect and higher education for everyone, in particular those forced to flee violent conflict and persecution. In this, we are committed to creating a culture of sanctuary within our university for all members of our community, which will in turn strengthen diversity, inclusion and equality practices for every marginalised and underrepresented group within the university.
In 2020 we have witnessed challenging and horrific events on a local and global scale, whether it was the racism exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic or the murder of George Floyd in the US. These events have come in addition to longstanding state repression and protracted violence in Bangladesh, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey and far too many other places for us to list here. However, the subsequent world-wide protests such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement have opened up promising conversations about the continuing presence of racist and colonialist inheritances in our society. In order to create and maintain a culture of sanctuary within UEA, we recognise the need for anti-racist and decolonising practices in our everyday lives.
We condemn racism, state brutality and violence wherever it manifests itself and we express solidarity with individuals and movements working for social justice and transformation.
We commit to identifying, acknowledging and challenging issues of structural racism and epistemic inequality that continue to mark higher education practice.
We will continue to educate ourselves and our communities in this task of creating of more equitable futures.