Rebecca Murray.

image“Let the right one in” Transcending borders, barriers & binaries; widening access to Higher Education for forced migrants.

Dr Deborah Sporton
Professor Paul White

ESRC Collaborative Award

Current Research

‘Let the right one in’ refers to the ‘liberal paradox’ and inherent contradictions relating to the promotion of, or restrictions placed upon, migrant access to destination countries. This access is often predicated upon a migrant’s status as either ‘desirable’ or ‘undesirable’. Forced migrants seeking sanctuary outside their country of origin, constitute one of the most ‘undesirable’ migrant groups and as such experience marginalisation within society. My doctoral research seeks to explore how this marginalisation is both enacted and resisted at the institutional level, through exploring the barriers experienced by forced migrants (refugees & asylum seekers) who seek access to Higher Education. The aim is to interrogate not just policy but also perceptions created through the negative discursive construction of the category ‘forced migrant’ and its impact. This research questions whether Higher Education replicates the practices and approaches of other institutions in civil society, or if there exists the potential for greater and more powerful resistance to managed migration policies. The UK & Sweden will be the focus of a comparative study within the EU, into the impact of different managed migration regimes on forced migrants’ access to Higher Education.

Research Interests

  • Managed migration policy & practice
  • Social, economic, political and cultural issues pertaining to forced migration
  • Forced migration within the European Union
  • Foucauldian governmentality & neoliberal governmentality
  • Citizenship, agency and capital


MSc Sociological Research, University of Manchester (2004 – 2006)
Thesis: case study exploring the impact of legislation on the ‘care’ received by unaccompanied asylum seeking children within a local authority.

BA Humanities (Sociology) 2:1, Manchester Metropolitan University (1996 – 2000)
Thesis: new identities and ‘lesbian’ parenting.

Postgraduate Diploma CPD (Mentoring & Coaching), Manchester Metropolitan University (Jan 2013 – Sept 2013)

Previous Experience

Director of Article A26, Helena Kennedy Foundation (June 2010 – Present):
Co-founder and Director of Article 26 project, which secures fully funded bursaries to enable people from an asylum seeking background to access and succeed on an undergraduate degree programme. 16 students have graduated, as the direct result of support from the project and a further 56 are engaged in Higher Education, at 17 Higher Education institutions across England. Article 26 is currently leading a campaign to develop opportunities for students on NHS & Professional Practice degree programmes.

Independent Consultant (April 2012 – Present):

  • Schwab & Westheimer Trusts – an evaluation and development of a strategic plan in relation to the trusts’ grant giving to refugee and asylum seekers wishing to either access or continue in Further or Higher Education.
  • GMIAU (Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit) – evaluation of the specialist legal service provided to children and young people who have sought asylum or been trafficked into the UK. In addition to recording the success and achievements of the project, recommendations were made for the future development and role of the specialist service.
  • MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) - impact evaluation of ‘Manpowered’; a project aimed at men identified as having learning disabilities. The report captured the learning and good practice developed in regard to project work with people identified as having learning disabilities to share with partners across the UK, as well as developing a framework within which MOSI could continue to engage different community groups.

Research & Development Officer, Save the Children (February 2005 – January 2012):

Project Managed ‘Brighter Futures’; a self-advocacy group for young asylum seekers and refugees aged 15 – 21. Strategic development of ‘In My Back Yard’ project delivering campaigns and advocacy for children living in severe and persistent poverty. Both projects involved high profile campaigns aimed at improving access to and widening the participation of these children & young people in education.

I developed policy and undertook advocacy & research relating to the care and experiences of UASC (unaccompanied asylum seeking children) living alone in the UK. Examples of this include the co-ordination of a steering group for the statutory service responsible for these children in care, in order to promote practice standards and joint working protocols across the North West of England. I led on two pieces of research; ‘Impact of the Age Assessment Process on UASC’ and ‘Exploring Models of Guardianship’ to influence improved working practice. Additional specialist practice areas included; the asylum process, child trafficking, destitution, detention and return.


Enabling Education Network, Dec 2014: 'Widening access and creating opportunities in higher education for people who have fled persecution and sought asylum in the UK'.
Enabling Education Network

‘Education for All’: Access to Higher Education for people who have sought asylum; a guide for universities.
This recent publication by Article 26 is a comprehensive resource aimed at universities who wish to support students from an asylum seeking background to study within their institutions. This guide combines the skills and experiences of Article 26, our partner universities and student body to present information, advice & guidance and the tools required to establish an Article 26 bursary scheme. Copies can be downloaded for free from the website:

Conference Presentations

  • Sept 2015: University of Manchester, Youth Participation Impact. Key note speaker and panel facilitator 'Youth Participation & Access to Higher Education'.
  • July 2015: FACE (Further and continuing education) conference, 'Let the right one in'. Awarded student scholarship to enable full participation in the three day conference.
  • April 2015, Annals of American Geographers: ‘Doing Immigration Control’
  • August 2014, Royal Geographical Society: ‘Geographies of Education’
  • June 2014, University of Manchester: ‘Symposium of the Street’

Contact Details and relevant links

Address: Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield,
S10 2TN
Email: or