Applications for the SOAS Sanctuary Scholarships are now open

Sanctuary Scholarships

Launched in 2015, applications for the SOAS Sanctuary Scholarships are now being accepted

Applying to university is hard enough, but for some, the costs associated with a university education make higher education totally unviable – an experience made even worse for students that have been displaced by external factors outside of their control.

The SOAS Sanctuary Scholarships are a way for the school to support displaced students in achieving their dreams of completing a degree – by easing the financial cost of a university education.

Dr. Emilia Onyema, Chair of the Sanctuary Scholarship Steering Group from 2019, says: “These scholarships are life-transforming; they enable students the power to change lives, and to contribute to society, as well as make changes in their home countries. These students deserve to be here, and this Scholarship opens greater opportunities for these students to develop.”

Below are accounts from some recipients of the Sanctuary Scholarships, who have gone on to forge successful academic careers at SOAS.


ahmad graduationAhmad al-Rashid (MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development, 2017)

“The programme I studied at SOAS has not only expanded my knowledge of the impact violence and conflicts have, but also enabled me to explore possibilities to transform challenges into opportunities.”

Since graduating, Ahmad, originally from Syria, is working as a consultant for the International Organisation for Migration, where he supports the integration of Syrian refugees resettled to the UK.





Aisha SerikiAishat scholarships (BA Global Liberal Arts, 2020)

When looking for universities at school, Aisha realised that her status did not allow her to access student finance, which made the prospect of attending university impossible. Following this, she joined ‘Let us Learn’ to campaign for scholarships for displaced people. 

“When I was younger I wanted to go to SOAS. If I was to get a chance to go to university, I could only imagine myself at somewhere like SOAS. Half of me wants to be a lawyer, do immigration law and be in the Supreme Court, but I also really enjoy photography – documenting things –  I’m interested in photojournalism. Overall, I just want to help people. My Sanctuary Scholarship has given me the tools to do that.”


Muhammad Issa (MA Translation, 2018)

Issa Scholarships

“Scholarships are vital because life can sometimes be unjust for those people who need our help. There will always be good times and bad ones, but I must thank Sanctuary Scholarships for making my life full of pleasure again. It was a new start in my life. It meant that no matter how hard life is, good-hearted people were by my side. There are two million Syrians in Turkey who find it too difficult to communicate. Through translation, I can be of benefit to my country.”

Muhammad now works with the Citizens Advice Bureau on translation projects across the country. His plan is to help fellow Syrians and Kurds across the world.


Mariam Otaiku (LLM, 2018)

Mariam Scholarships

“I have limited leave to remain, which meant there was no way I could afford studying. When I found out I had been awarded a scholarship to study MA Law, I called my mother in Nigeria and she was ecstatic. My family are so proud of me – and as we call law students and legal practitioners in Nigeria, now they call me “The Law”. Don’t ask me why we do that!”


See Carolyn and Michelle’s story below.

Undergraduate applications are being accepted until 27th February 2020, with postgraduate taught applications open until 30th June 2020. Apply here.

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