Dr Rebecca Murray

Department of Sociological Studies

Postdoctoral Research Associate & Project Manager

Dr Rebecca Murray
+44 114 222 6443

Full contact details

Dr Rebecca Murray
Department of Sociological Studies
Elmfield Building
Northumberland Road
S10 2TU

Rebecca joined the department of Sociological Studies May 2019, in the role of Postdoctoral Research Associate. Rebecca supports the ESRC project ‘Understanding the role of faith based organisations in anti-trafficking’. April 2020, Rebecca took on the additional role of Project Manager for the Migration, Integration and Governance Research Centre (MIGREC) and the Sheffield Migration Research Group (MRG).

Both these roles build upon Rebecca’s academic research and practice across the statutory and non-statutory sector focused on the marginalisation and precarity encountered by forced migrants.

January 2019, Rebecca graduated from the University of Sheffield upon the successful completion of her ESRC-funded PhD in the field of Human Geography. Rebecca’s doctoral thesis entitled ‘Navigating the Higher Education Border: Routes to Belonging for Forced Migrant Students in the UK & Sweden’, is a comparative study exploring the role of universities in creating 'routes to belonging' for forced migrant students in the UK and Sweden. Rebecca continues her work in the field of forced migration and higher education through her position as an honorary Research Associate at the University of Exeter. In 2016, Rebecca was awarded an honorary fellowship by the University of Winchester, and in 2019 an honorary doctorate from Keele University.

From 2008 - 2018, Rebecca founded and acted as the Director of the Article 26 project, which worked in partnership with UK universities to create scholarships for forced migrant students. This project has been integrated into the Universities of Sanctuary and Rebecca continues her involvement as a member of the steering committee. In addition to research and academic pursuits Rebecca has extensive experience of working in the statutory sector, as a qualified Welfare Rights Office specialising in the rights and entitlements of people aged 19 and under. Rebecca spent over 10 years working in the third sector with Save the Children, where she specialised in research, advocacy and practice with young people experiencing forced displacement and children experiencing severe and persistent poverty.

Research interests

May 2019

‘Understanding the role of faith based organisations in anti-trafficking’
A member of the ESRC team conducting this research project in collaboration with the University of Leeds. In recent years, faith-based organisations (FBOs) have become increasingly prominent in both campaigns around anti-trafficking, and the provision of services to trafficked persons. FBOs provide services as part of the government-funded National Referral Mechanism, as well as ‘filling the gaps’ by supporting people outside of government contracts. This project explores how faith shapes approaches to anti-trafficking. What, if anything, is distinctive about the support offered by FBOs and how this support experienced by trafficked persons. The end of project symposium is due to take place 24th January 2020 entitled: ‘Rights, dignity and religion: responding to ‘modern slavery’.

September 2018

‘Qualifying Opportunities & Quantifying Demand’: Forced Migrant Access to Higher Education
I am the PI on this research funded by the MB Reckitt Charitable Trust and De Montfort University. It constitutes comprehensive mapping of the provision and impact of opportunities within higher education targeting forced migrants. The activities of 72 HEIs were analysed following structured research interviews with 45, archival and internet based investigation for the remaining 29 HEIs. The policy briefing ‘Mapping opportunities available for forced migrant students at UK universities: Sanctuary Scholarships’ has been disseminated throughout UK universities and the relevant bodies governing higher education. One academic article ‘UK University Initiatives Supporting Forced Migrants: acts of resistance or the reproduction of structural inequalities?’ has been submitted to Migration & Society Journal.

April 2018 

‘Forced Migrants in Higher Education: ‘Sanctuary Scholarships’ in a Hostile Environment’
This research is delivered in partnership with the University of Liverpool’s Law School and interrogates the interaction between public (asylum) support and private (Sanctuary Scholarships) in the context of higher education, explored through the intersection of theories concerned with solidarity and bordering practices. A series of policy briefings are in production and an article has been submitted to the Journal of Ethnicity & Migration Studies.

November 2018 – March 2019

‘Exploring the role of higher education institutions in the creation and delivery of alternative pathways to facilitate the resettlement of refugees’
This scoping research was commissioned by the Amnesty International Secretariat to scope existing practice, alongside an exploration of the potential to develop the role played by universities in refugee resettlement, through the creation of alternative legal pathways.

June 2017 – July 2018

‘Displaced Students & Academics in European Higher Education Institutions’
This research explored the challenges in the visibility and delivery of initiatives targeting displaced academics and students in European HEIs. This project was undertaken with an interdisciplinary team led by the University of Manchester, funded by the Marie Curie Alumni Association. The survey findings were published in ANGLE and included in ‘The Future of European Research Funding’ published by the European Commission. In July 2018, key findings were presented during a panel discussion ‘How to Integrate Refugee Students and Academics into University’ at the ESOF conference, with representatives from the European Commission, KIRON, EURAXESS and the University of Grenoble.


There has been a problem showing this information. Please try again later.