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Cardiff Met praised as ‘fantastic example’ for providing sanctuary to scholars and academics at risk

News | 20 January 2023

Cardiff Metropolitan University is celebrating after being re-accredited as a University of Sanctuary. 

The institution, which became Wales’ first University of Sanctuary in 2018, has received the honour again from City of Sanctuary UK. 

City of Sanctuary UK “was very impressed with the excellent structure, provisions and activities that continue to make Cardiff Met a place of Sanctuary”, commenting that “the embedding of this vision into all levels of the University is clear” and that “it was great to see the range of scholarships that have increased recently, the work with the council, and the contribution to the national movement in raising awareness of Sanctuary issues”.

The appraisers concluded: “Cardiff Met is a fantastic example of providing welcome to scholars and academics at risk”. 

City of Sanctuary also noted examples of good practice in the work undertaken with the Council of At Risk Academics (Cara) to support displaced scholars and the University’s use of social media which has enabled communities beyond the higher education sector to recognise the work being undertaken in the capital city and beyond.

City of Sanctuary was also impressed with the University’s approach to promoting scholarships and reaching out to potential student recruits through community groups, schools and FE colleges. 

The reappraisal report also noted how Cardiff Met’s Chaplaincy team continues to be involved with equality, diversity and inclusivity awareness training, including the needs of forced migrants.

In terms of language learning and the range of approaches to this, the University was seen to be providing help with building confidence and navigating the culture shock when entering student life.

Cardiff Met’s Sanctuary Scholarship programme was launched in 2017 and initially offered two postgraduate level scholarships to people seeking sanctuary in the UK. In 2019, undergraduate scholarships were added to this offering.  This year, 12 Sanctuary Award Scholarships were made available and the eligibility criteria was extended to include students with leave under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. 

In addition to introducing undergraduate scholarships, Cardiff Met now also offers asylum seekers the lower tuition fee at the same rate as those students eligible for ‘Home fee status’ rather than the higher international tuition fee rate.

Cardiff Met’s first postgraduate Sanctuary Scholar, Larysa Agbaso, came from Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine after the 2014 Russian invasion, and recently graduated with a Masters. Larysa has since secured a teaching post. 

The university has also provided sanctuary to two Cara Fellows who joined Cardiff Met after leaving Afghanistan. They had previously both worked as lecturers in economics at Herat University before the Taliban takeover of the country last August. 

President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff Met, Professor Cara Aitchison, said: “Cardiff Met is a progressive university, working with purpose and compassion to make economies more prosperous, societies fairer, cultures richer, environments greener and communities healthier. We work in partnership with students to transform lives and communities through a high-quality, high-impact education informed by cutting-edge research and innovation.

“The University is embarking on its next Corporate Strategic plan 2023-2030 within which we will develop our international relationships, cultural diplomacy and soft power as a University of Sanctuary playing a key role in establishing Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary.”

Cardiff Met has built an enviable reputation as Wales’ first University of Sanctuary, with a number of sector-leading developments: 

• Cardiff Met appointed the Executive Director of Cara, Stephen Wordsworth CMG LVO, as the University’s new Chancellor. Stephen has extensive and high-level experience in international relations, cultural diplomacy and the role of education in international conflict resolution and capacity building. In December 2022, Mr Wordsworth launched the University’s new lecture series, where he addressed an invited audience.

• Cardiff Metropolitan University has pledged £400,000 to support the role of education in peace-building in Ukraine. The money will be used over the next two years in Fellowships and Scholarships, as well as accommodation for those fleeing Ukraine. 

• Cardiff Met has also signed a twinning agreement with H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University (Skovoroda University) - facilitating the sharing of resources and support in a collective gesture of solidarity and reciprocity to help Ukrainian institutions, staff and students.    

• Over the summer 2022, the University hosted Ukraine's men's athletics team as they prepared for the European Championships in Munich, providing facilities, accommodation, food, physiotherapy and sport science support, all free of charge.

• Global Grants were launched in March 2022. They are open to all staff and students across the university and aim to support activities, initiatives and events themed around integration, cultural diversity and inclusion and our University of Sanctuary status. The grants support activities and initiatives taking place on campus or in the local community and are available are from £100 to £1,000.