Universities of Sanctuary

Universities of Sanctuary is an initiative of the City of Sanctuary movement which began in October 2005 in Sheffield. It celebrates the good practice of universities welcoming sanctuary seekers into their communities and fostering a culture of welcome and inclusion for all. A University of Sanctuary should be a place where anyone can feel safe, welcome and able to pursue their right to education.

The Universities of Sanctuary initiative encourage Universities to:

Learn: Learning about what it means to be seeking sanctuary, in general and at a university. This encompasses any activity on training staff, teaching students or holding events to raise awareness on what it means to be seeking sanctuary.

Embed: taking positive action to embed concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within the institution and the wider community. This involves ensuring that a sustainable culture of welcome is established within the institution to bring about far reaching, tangible and long-lasting changes.

Share: sharing the university’s vision, achievements, what they have learned and good practice, with other universities, the local community, the media and others.

  • Do everything possible to secure equal access to higher education for refugees
  • Reach out to and support refugees in their local communities who could benefit from University resources in a sustainable way.
  • Undertake activities to nurture a culture of welcome and an inclusive atmosphere within their institutions such as among staff and students.

Irish Universities of Sanctuary

Dublin City University was designated as Ireland’s first “University of Sanctuary”  in December 2016 in recognition of a range of initiatives demonstrating commitment to welcoming asylum seekers and refugees into the university community and to fostering a culture of inclusion for all. Read more

University of Limerick was officially presented with the University of Sanctuary award on United Nations World Refugee Day June 20th 2017. The designation for UL was built on an existing history of engagement with refuges and asylum seekers in a number of programmes of education and research. Read more

University College Cork joined DCU and UL as universities leading the way in Ireland by being awarded University of Sanctuary status by Places of Sanctuary Ireland in February 2018.  Read more

University College Dublin was awarded University of Sanctuary status in March 2018 in recognition of a range of initiatives welcoming refugees and asylum seekers into the university community. Read more

University of Galway became the sixth university to receive University of Sanctuary status in September 2019. The specific aim of the campaign at NUI Galway is to increase public awareness of the global refugee crisis and Traveller-specific issues across the University campus. Read more

Maynooth University was designated as a University of Sanctuary in early 2020 in recognition of its efforts to welcome and include people seeking asylum, refugees and other migrants. Read more

Trinity College Dublin was awarded it’s University of Sanctuary status in February 2021 in recognition of their efforts supporting young asylum seekers and refugees, who have successfully come through Irish secondary schools, to access undergraduate education at Trinity. Read more

IUA’s Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion is Tony McMahon