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Solent Unviersity Southampton logo
Solent Unviersity Southampton logo

Logos for the Universities of Sanctuary and City of Sanctuary supporting organisationAt Solent, we are committed to providing a fair, diverse and cohesive environment that challenges and tackles social inequality. Our work on campus and in the local community aims to build a welcoming culture, based on mutual trust, fairness, harmony and respect.

Our vision is to transform people’s lives, regardless of their background, through providing learning, teaching and experiences that are relevant to the real world.

Located in a diverse and culturally enriched community, Solent welcomes people seeking sanctuary, including asylum seekers and refugees. Since 2017, when Southampton City Council welcomed 25 Syrian families into the city, we have offered a scholarship to Syrian national refugees, enabling those who have fled their war-torn home to access the benefits of higher education and build a better life.

With a history of working with our local community and welcoming those in need, we are committed to achieving University of Sanctuary status in 2022. This UK-wide initiative aims to ensure universities foster a welcome and inclusive culture for asylum seekers and refugees.

Becoming a University of Sanctuary is just one example of the University’s commitment to public engagement. Public engagement at Solent University is formed of two strategic priorities from the 2025 strategy, Engaging with our Communities and Research and Knowledge Exchange. We are also a proud signatory of the City of Sanctuary pledge.

Solent has a strong history of working with our local communities and people seeking sanctuary are a vital part of our community. I am delighted that through our new scholarship we can show a clear commitment to supporting equal access to higher education which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our work does not stop here, and the University, working with external partners, will be taking clear steps to ensure Solent and Southampton is welcoming to people seeking sanctuary.
Professor Karen Stanton, Vice-Chancellor, Solent University
I am excited to be working with Solent University and proud to support their commitments to widening their welcome and access to people seeking sanctuary. At a time when this is needed most, Solent is a great example of a university working collaboratively with their community to learn about the barriers people seeking sanctuary can face and working together to overcome them. We look forward to learning from Solent and welcoming them into the network.
Maryam Taher, University of Sanctuary Programme Coordinator, City of Sanctuary
Unity 101 has a long standing relationship with Solent University and we’ve been delighted to work with staff and students in delivering projects that enable our communities to exchange knowledge and come together to share their life experiences. Southampton, like the University, welcomes everyone that arrives here and I’m delighted to hear that additional support, through this scholarship, will now be provided to those seeking sanctuary in our community.
Ram Kalyan, Station Manager, Unity 101, and Honorary Doctor of Arts

A network of nominated colleagues across the University, forming a working group, are driving the initiative, ensuring that we make a difference to people seeking sanctuary. Here you can discover how Solent is welcoming people seeking sanctuary and fostering a culture of welcome and inclusion for all. If you would like to find out more or get involved, please get in touch.

Support as an applicant

Monika Materna-Brossier is our named contact for the Solent Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme. Monika will provide one-to-one support to any person seeking sanctuary with their application to the University and the scheme, along with being a friendly face to our successful sanctuary scholars.

Monika is an international student adviser in the International Office, providing information, advice, and guidance to international students across the University. She contributes a wealth of experience to the team on immigration and study visas and has been at Solent since 2018.

If you wish to apply for the scheme or find out more, email Monika at

Support as a student

There are lots of ways for students to get help and support once a sanctuary scholar, in addition to our named contact, Rozenn. Whether you have a problem with your course, finances, personal life or mental health, Student Services are here to help. They will endeavour to answer your query and if they can’t, they will find the appropriate person or specialist team to do so.

The Student Hub at Solent University is the first point of contact for any queries relating to your course or any personal matters which may be affecting your studies at the University. You can visit them in person at East Park Terrace, email or call 023 8201 5200.

More information about the Solent Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme

In support of our vision and values as a university, each year Solent awards one Solent Sanctuary Scholarship consisting of a full yearly fee waiver and a £3,000 grant to a person seeking sanctuary studying on a three-year undergraduate programme.

Eligibility criteria and further information, including how to apply

People seeking sanctuary are likely to be able to apply for a contextual offer, which is a scheme where applicants who meet specific criteria may receive lower entry offers than standard (based on their context and individual circumstances). Those who meet the contextual offer criteria should apply through the usual UCAS process and also use the self-declaration form if they feel they meet additional criteria. Find out more.

Monika Materna-Brossier, International Student Adviser, can support people seeking sanctuary through the application process. If they do not yet have a conditional or unconditional offer from Solent University, we can also help them with this process. Please get in touch.

Our plan moving forward 

We have created a three-year plan, from August 2021 through to July 2024, which will ensure we continue to develop a culture of welcome. The working group created the plan in consultation with students, staff, academics, alumni and external partners who are part of Solent’s University of Sanctuary Network.

The plan includes everything from undertaking widening participation activities with people seeking sanctuary through to supporting Southampton’s School of Sanctuary network. You can see the full plan here. 

As we implement the plan, we will keep this page up to date with our successes and impact.

Read our three-year plan

Examples of how we’ve been creating a culture of welcome

Enabling fair access: Contextual offers and scholarship schemes - Ongoing
Solent is a proud champion of widening participation, which is at the core of our operations and our culture. In 2020 we introduced our contextual offers scheme. The scheme uses additional information gained through contextual data to support our admissions process where we will identify disadvantaged students, their achievement and potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience, encourage application and make lower offers to support access. Refugees and asylum seekers are eligible for the scheme.

Find out more

In 2021 we also launched the Solent Sanctuary Scholarship scheme in addition to our scholarship scheme for Syrian national refugees.

Find out more

Engaging our students: BA (Hons) Sociology module - Migration and Refugees - Ongoing 
Our third year sociology students have the option to undertake a module that develops their understanding of the various push and pull factors that drive global migration. The module enables learners to appreciate the connected and on-going movement of people as they live as residents of a nation, transnational migrants, settled citizens, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Find out more

Engaging our communities: Solent’s Showcase Gallery Narratives of Displacement Exhibition - January to March 2020 
Based on a dialogue with internationally renowned artist Dr Rachel Gadsden, Solent’s Showcase Gallery presented exhibitions examining different experiences of the same themes: displacement, identity and social perception. 

The first exhibition, Narratives of Displacement explored the use of art as a form to help refugee women tell their stories. Over 1200 members of the public visited the exhibition. The pieces in the exhibition were created by Iraqi and Syrian women who have found refuge in Germany, the UK and Jordan. Read more.  

Driving research and knowledge exchange
Hierarchical Assemblages of Citizenship and Belonging: The Pedestrian Speech Acts of Gujarati Indian Walkers, Dr Aarti Ratna, 2019 

Sustainable Refugee Migration: A Rethink towards a Positive Capability Approach, Dr Mohammed Al-Husban, Solent University, 2016 

City of Sanctuary is a national charity that holds the vision that our nations will be welcoming places of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution. City of Sanctuary UK, the umbrella organisation, has supported the development of a network of groups, which includes villages, towns, cities and regions across the UK, and others engaged in Streams of Sanctuary, Sanctuary Awards and activities intended to welcome people seeking sanctuary.

Find out more

The Universities of Sanctuary stream is an initiative to recognise the good practice of universities that welcome people seeking sanctuary into their communities and seek to foster a culture of awareness and inclusivity. A growing number of universities now being recognised as Universities of Sanctuary.

Find out more

There is a range of local organisations and charities working with people seeking sanctuary in and around Southampton:

Through Universities UK #TwinForHope campaign Solent University is twinned with the Admiral Makarov National University of Shipbuilding, Ukraine.

Get involved

Join Solent’s Civic Exchange Network

Learning and sharing are fundamental principles of the University of Sanctuary and as a Civic University we are keen to engage and build a network of students, staff, academics, alumni and external partners to share experiences and knowledge of living within our local community.

Our Civic Exchange Network launched in December 2022 and meets quarterly to a discuss a particular subject. The network helps shape our activities and create a culture of welcome. Anyone is welcome to attend the network and there is no requirement to have attended previous meetings. To join the network and receive an invite to the next meeting please get in touch.

Got an idea or looking to work with us?

We’re working with a range of external partners and organisation to enable our plan. We are always interested in hearing about ways we can work together on new incentives and ideas for projects involving or helping people seeking sanctuary. For example, we can help find volunteers as all Solent staff are entitled to a day’s paid volunteering a year. Please get in touch to let us know more.

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