In December 2022, we were awarded University of Sanctuary Status, joining a network of higher education institutions across the UK working to develop support for those displaced by humanitarian crises. 


Universities of Sanctuary is an initiative to recognise and celebrate the good practice of institutions welcoming people seeking sanctuary through facilitated access to higher education, supporting local refugee communities and taking an active role in learning about the issues and obstacles faced by this group in pursuing university-level education. The award of University of Sanctuary status comes after a rigorous assessment process during which we demonstrated our commitment to engaging and supporting those seeking sanctuary in a number of ways.

Being a University of Sanctuary is key to our Civic Agreement: our commitment to make Birmingham a better place for everyone who lives, works and studies here. 

It is also closely linked to our diversity and inclusion strategy, which recognises that our success as an institution depends on the diversity of our staff and students. This work is led by our Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality and Diversity and includes a variety of support networks, such as the BAME staff network. 

We have lots of support in place for refugee or asylum seeker students.

If you are a current or prospective refugee or asylum seeker student, you can contact the International Student Advice team, who will be able to direct you to relevant support services.

If you have been affected by the current crisis in Ukraine, you can find details of our response and support.

We have two research centres working on helping sanctuary seekers at a local, national and international level.

We are supporting sanctuary seekers across Birmingham through a variety of projects, including:

  • Enactus Aston run Chance for Change, a refugee project that aims to empower refugees to fulfil their ambitions.
  • CREME’s Pathways to Enterprising Futures programme opens employment pathways and supports enterprise skills for ethnic minority individuals in the region, including sanctuary seekers.

We work closely with partner organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers:

  • Birmingham City Council Prevention, Communication and Migration Team
  • Citizen’s UK Birmingham, a community organising organisation for whom creating a Region of Welcome is a priority.
  • ACH, a social enterprise that provides integration services to refugees and migrant.
  • Sona Circle, a recruitment agency that helps employers hire employees from the refugee workforce.
  • Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham, a music and arts organisation with a mission to support, develop and celebrate refugee and migrant artists.
  • B:Music, the music charity responsible or Birmingham Symphony Hall and Town Hall.
  • Centrala, a nationally and internationally recognised centre for Central and Eastern European art and artists.

Find out more about the work Aston University is doing in the region.