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The Criteria

To be recognised as a College of Sanctuary, colleges must go through the learn, embed and share sanctuary award processes and demonstrate the fulfilment of twelve minimum criteria specific to the Colleges of Sanctuary stream.


1) Education opportunities are provided for all college staff, management and leadership on refugee, asylum and forced migration issues to build general awareness and training is offered to build professional expertise in supporting students from sanctuary seeking backgrounds.

2) All students are given opportunities to develop their awareness of issues related to forced displacement and migration more widely in order to develop critical thinking and empathy. This might be through the curriculum, where relevant, but also during additional sessions such as personal development, workshops, wider colleges activities and student induction.


3) There is a dedicated member of staff/team of staff as a named contact point for sanctuary students and responsible for overseeing the practice and provision for sanctuary seeking students. This contact person should be communicated to the students, be easily accessible and the staff member(s) must be appropriately trained.

4) Ensure that your college takes a holistic approach to ensuring that students from sanctuary seeking backgrounds can access and thrive in education.

5) Commitment to supporting active student voice on sanctuary and welcoming activities in the college. For example, this might mean supporting the establishment of a student-led awareness group or ensuring that your student council, governors or other student-led groups are actively involved in the process of working towards recognition.

6) Recognition of and participation in the annual Refugee Week or other regular celebratory events which highlight the contribution of refugees and migrants to the UK. More information about the annual event can be found here.

7) Active engagement with the wider community including people seeking sanctuary. Where relevant, this may also include the local City of Sanctuary network or refugee support organisations or local authority.

8) The college should demonstrate how it will continue to develop and sustain a culture of welcome beyond the award and ideally, this should be linked to or made clear in policy documents and induction for new staff. This strategy should also consider how the college will widen participation to courses and projects to those seeking sanctuary.

9) Wherever possible, ensure that people seeking sanctuary are involved in the development of your plans and action and on relevant committees.


10) A public commitment to the City of Sanctuary vision of welcome, including the endorsement of City of Sanctuary charter which can be done via signing the City of Sanctuary organisation pledge. This pledge should be included on the college’s website and in a public space in the college.

11) Celebrate and promote the welcome and contribution of people seeking sanctuary. The college publicly highlights its activities in support of welcome and inclusion.

12) Commitment to on-going engagement with the FE Colleges of Sanctuary stream.

For further information on the FE College of Sanctuary minimum criteria, please refer to the application guidance. You can also review the audit tool to identify how you can meet the minimum criteria. For both resources, see the Award Resources Page.

Please note: City of Sanctuary UK recognises that colleges vary widely in their contexts and capacities, and there is no expectation that every FE College of Sanctuary will follow the exact same path or that every college’s application will look the same. The criteria have been developed to ensure the credibility and standardisation of the award, but hopefully with enough flexibility for schools to be able to devise their own unique pathway. We encourage every college to use this process intentionally to critically review provision and practice and better understand the experiences of and listen to the voices of students seeking sanctuary.