Supporting refugees and asylum seekers

As a City of Sanctuary, Sheffield has a history of providing a welcome and hospitality for refugees and asylum seekers.

We're proud to be part of this in our role as a University of Sanctuary.




What our staff and students are already doing


Arrivals: Making Sheffield Home

Wednesday 9 November 2016, 6-8pm
Weston Park Museum, Mushroom Lane, Sheffield

Our Migration Research Group joins in conversation with subjects of Jeremy Abrahams' current Arrivals exhibition, which celebrates the remarkable stories of Sheffield residents who have travelled from across the globe to make a home in the city.

Book your free tickets


From Somalia to Sheffield: Abdi's story

Abdi-Aziz Suleiman came to the UK and to Sheffield as a child as an asylum seeker from Somalia. As President of our Students' Union he co-founded our #WeAreInternational campaign with the Vice-Chancellor.

Why I'm proud to be a 'bad migrant'

Abdi reflects on society’s idea of a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrant and why we shouldn’t allow anyone to convince us not to have empathy. Posted on the New Statesman.

Sheffield skylineA PLACE OF SANCTUARY

Sheffield – a city and university of sanctuary

As a City of Sanctuary, Sheffield has a history of providing a welcome and hospitality for refugees and asylum seekers. We're proud to be part of this in our role as a University of Sanctuary.

We have staff, students and alumni who were refugees and our academic staff work with refugees in the city. We're associated with Cara, an organisation that helps academics in immediate danger, those forced into exile, and many who choose to remain in their home countries despite the serious risks they face.

Highlights so far

Highlights so far

Sheffield walk for refugees

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Sheffield walk for refugees on Sunday 5 June 2016. We look back on some of the highlights with our Sheffield walk for refugees Storify and our video below.

This walk builds on our University-wide initiative, the Big Walk 2016, where staff walked over 120 miles over six days along the Trans Pennine Trail to raise funds for the Refugee Student Scholarships scheme and to support refugee academics.

Supporting at-risk academics and refugee students

We're a university with a long-standing tradition of welcoming refugees as academics and students. The Sheffield walk for refugees was a chance to celebrate our proud heritage and show solidarity with those that are still in danger.

If you'd like to support refugees who are teaching and learning at the University of Sheffield you can donate through our JustGiving website.

Make a donation

One of the founding ideas of a university is that it welcomes talent from around the world. This video presents a few of the stories and testimonies of refugee scholars and students at the University of Sheffield.

University of Sheffield students and staff stand up to show support for refugees

Fetched Home by Edmund de Waal

Award-winning artist, writer and Sheffield alumnus Edward de Waal has gifted the University a piece of art in response to our work to welcome staff and students from around the world, including those seeking refuge and asylum.

An interview with Edmund de Waal

In this feature on Edmund de Waal we learn about Edmund de Waal's family history and his practice as an artist and a writer. You can also watch his lecture: On the eve of departure: homelessness, exile and art.


Migrants in the cityMigrants in the City conference on iTunes U

Rapid urbanisation is radically changing the economic, financial, social, and ecological landscape of our planet. It has been identified as the single greatest development challenge and opportunity for the 21st century.

International migration has been, is and will continue to be a key route both shaping and being shaped by urbanisation.

This international conference provides a forum for the examination of key questions related to contemporary international migration in the context of urban development, residential segregation and diversity.

Comment and research

Comment and research


Twitter analysis, source: Oxfam and Pulsar

Alan Kurdi a year on: How an image transformed the debate on immigration

1 September 2016 Since photographs of drowned refugee Alan Kurdi became headline news last year, discussion about refugees and migrants has increased on Twitter by almost 400 per cent.

Our Visual Social Media Lab has produced independent research for charity Oxfam highlighting the impact the heartbreaking images of the three-year old refugee have had on social media a year on from his death. The analysis found a rise in interest in the refugee issue on Twitter, with four times as many tweets on the subject than in the year before.


FootballersRefugees – an authority on the world's best selling book

22 June 2016 In this comment piece Dr Casey Strine shares his research on the book of Genesis, which he discussed at the Migration Matters festival in June as part of Refugee Week 2016.

Casey is Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies.


Aylan Kurdi: How a single image transformed the debate on immigration

14 December 2015 Researchers at the University of Sheffield’s Visual Social Media Lab carried out a detailed investigation into how pictures of three-year-old refugee Aylan Kurdi galvanised the global conscience reveals how social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and searching on Google, can suddenly change the very language of the debate on immigration.


Vice-Chancellor speaks in defence of British universities

27 January 2016 Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett used the annual lecture of the Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU) to call for the UK to value the powerful contribution of universities to society.


A test we must not fail

31 May 2016 Our Vice-Chancellor reflects on how refugees have enriched societies everywhere after a visit to Ellis Island, the reception centre for millions of immigrants to the United States.


Justice should be the driving force for reporting on the refugee crisis

18 September 2015 Steven Harkins, a PhD student from the University of Sheffield's Department of Journalism Studies, argues that justice should be the driving force for reporting on the refugee crisis.


What the experts say

10 September 2015 Academics from across the University of Sheffield share their views on the refugee crisis.

Campaigns and support for students

Campaigns and support for students


The government must do more for refugees

Professor Andrew Geddes from our Department of Politics is among a number of leading academics to sign a letter urging the British government to urgently change its approach to the European refugee and migrant crisis.


We are international

We launched our We are international campaign to ensure that the contribution of international students to our economy and culture is recognised.


Support for asylum seekers

We're committed to supporting students who have sought asylum in the UK through scholarships, services and a dedicated asylum seeker contact.

Asylum Seeker Scholarships

These scholarships will be available for students studying undergraduate degrees or postgraduate masters courses. Our aim is to support students under the government’s resettlement programme or who are recent arrivals in the UK.

Help for current students affected by the refugee crisis

Our Students' Union Advice Centre is here to help you during your academic studies, and can also provide advice on issues such as finance and housing, asylum and working in the UK.


Back where you came from

For Refugee Week 2015, University academic Dr Casey Strine and artist/art therapist Emilie Taylor worked with asylum seekers and refugees in Sheffield to create an art exhibition reflecting on their experiences of seeking sanctuary in the city.

Find out more