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Why become a College of Sanctuary?

The support FE colleges provide is instrumental in helping young people get the education that will allow them to thrive in the UK. In addition, non-refugee and asylum seeking young people in the UK need not only to learn about these issues but where possible meet people face-to-face who have lived experience of displacement in order to understand both their local communities and the wider world better. 

Becoming a College of Sanctuary brings a wealth of benefits to an institution, its students, staff and the local community. 

Some of these include:

  • Sanctuary seeking students enrich academic discussions and campus life by bringing new perspectives and cultures together.
  • Establishing a culture of welcome for sanctuary seekers, where people feel valued and safe, will have knock-on benefits for other college-users.
  • Equipping students to go into a range of professions with the necessary skills to address barriers to equal opportunities and ensure welcome and inclusion.
  • Being a part of a dynamic group of colleges working to improve the culture of sanctuary in education and in society generally.
  • The notion of sanctuary fits with the values and strategic plans of most colleges; it contributes towards progress in inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability.
  • Taking a practical, public step towards inclusion, and countering discourses of xenophobia and racism both within and outside college life.
  • Creating a campus which is more inclusive and diverse and empathetic.

How to become a College of Sanctuary?

A true College of Sanctuary requires a whole-organisation approach, but it’s not one size fits all; the award will reflect the profile, size and local context of the organisation. However, there are some minimum criteria to be met. The minimum criteria for an award are detailed in this document CoS Sanctuary Award Criteria.docx.

There are three processes that underpin the commitment needed to become a College of Sanctuary.


Learning about what it means to be seeking sanctuary, both in general (for the community in which the college is situated), and specifically (in the context of education and the campus environment). 


Taking positive action to embed concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within the institution including, but not limited to, the student body, students’ union, departments, faculties, senior management, administrative and campus management staff. To take steps to ensure this progress outlasts the current student population.


Sharing your vision, achievements, what you have learned, and good practice with other universities, the local community and beyond.

In summary, Colleges of Sanctuary are colleges that learn about what it means to be seeking sanctuary, that embed concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion into their very fabric, and that share and celebrate their achievements. 

College of Sanctuary Awards

Once a college feels that they are meeting these processes, and that they have met the minimum criteria, they can apply for a College of Sanctuary Award. More information about the City of Sanctuary Awards can be found here. There is one application form for all awards.

The application form should be submitted along with the accreditation fee of £450 for the three year duration, or £150 per year. You can read more about the accreditation fee here.