Warwick was privileged to host this year’s annual Article 26 conference over three days in September 2017.
Article 26 is a project of the Helena Kennedy Foundation which promotes access to Higher Education for people who have fled persecution and sought asylum in the UK. Every year a UK higher education institution hosts the Article 26 conference and brings together sanctuary scholars and those who support them.
This year’s three day event was made up of three parts: Firstly, on Monday 4th September we welcomed 17 students, sanctuary scholars, from all over the UK, who took part in a day long set of workshops. Chaired by two of the students themselves, the day included workshops on CV writing and employability, settling in and getting on at university, dealing with the drinking culture on campus, and ‘organising yourself and your time’.
On Tuesday 5th September we welcomed 63 delegates –students but also administrators from a wide range of institutions who work in various university roles such as widening participation, immigration compliance, and managing scholarships. We offered workshops focussing on the nitty gritty of delivering university scholarships to students from a forced migrant background. That included scholarship eligibility criteria, outreach, and application & Selection processes. At the end of the day we held a mini graduation ceremony for four Article 26 sanctuary scholars who graduated this year from Keele, Kingston, and Winchester Universities in Psychology, International Relations, Software Engineering, and Accounting and Finance.
Particularly since 2015 there has been a rapid increase in the numbers of scholarships on offer in UK universities, and in other contexts, and so inevitably there is also a growing interest in researching this phenomenon. The final day was all about sharing research knowledge and expertise, discussing emerging debates, and starting to form an international network in this field. This was the first time in the history of Article 26 conferences, that an academic symposium appeared on the programme. The symposium was attended by 24 academics who from all over the world, who came together to discuss their research on asylum seekers and refugees in higher education in the UK, Australia, Turkey and Germany.
These days brought very informative and fruitful discussions, as well as a lot of inspiration, and we are so proud to have been able to host the conference here at Warwick. The conference was a huge success and should be a great source of pride for Warwick as we roll out our own scholarships, and indeed our broader University of Sanctuary agenda.
The next big event will be our first campus wide Refugee Week 26th-30th February 2018.