The news comes as the University marks Refugee Week 2021, a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.
The University of Sanctuary accreditation, given by the charity City of Sanctuary, recognises and celebrates the good practice of universities welcoming sanctuary seekers into their communities and fostering a culture of welcome and inclusion for all.
The accreditation panel were especially impressed by the work of the Refugee Rights Hub, based within the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice.
The Refugee Rights Hub trains undergraduate and postgraduate students to work alongside immigration and asylum specialists, helping refugees navigate the complex processes and procedures for making family reunification applications.
Since it began in 2018, the hub has now supported well over 150 family members from all over the world in making applications to join loved ones in the UK.
Support is also provided for those who are seeking asylum or hold refugee status and want to apply for a place at Sheffield Hallam through the SHU Progress scheme.
SHU Progress provides support for applicants whose personal circumstances might mean that there are barriers to going to university, including those from a refugee or an asylum-seeking background.
This could include exclusive and personal visits to the university to meet current students and staff, support with the costs of visiting the university for our events and open days and help with making an application, including access to workshops on preparing for interviews.
Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University said: “The accreditation of Sheffield Hallam as a University of Sanctuary is a wonderful achievement and demonstrates the crucial role universities have to play in extending opportunities and helping those displaced from their homes to rebuild their lives.”
Krassimira Teneva, co-lead of the migration, refuge and the university Hallam Guild group at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “I am delighted that Sheffield Hallam University has been accredited as a University of Sanctuary, confirming our status as a welcoming and inclusive institution within Sheffield – the original City of Sanctuary.
“We recognise the contribution of asylum-seekers and refugees to the city, and we will continue to welcome those seeking sanctuary into our diverse and supportive university community.”
Maryam Taher, Universities of Sanctuary Coordinator at City of Sanctuary said: "We are delighted that Sheffield Hallam University is joining the University of Sanctuary network.
“This award is an extension of their excellent provisions for students of sanctuary backgrounds to safely access higher education. The University-wide understanding of seeking sanctuary and the processes in place to support them were joined-up and embedded.
“The panel recognised the tremendous difference initiatives like the SHU Progress team is making, and the Helena Kennedy Centre is a great example of the impact of universities on the lives of people seeking protection."
The University also offers three Sanctuary Scholarships per academic year (one for undergraduate and two for postgraduate study) to support talented students who have sought asylum in the UK.
Sara, a Sanctuary Scholarship student at Sheffield Hallam (her name has been changed to protect her identity), said: “For years, I knew I had wanted to change faith then one day my parents found out and everything changed.
“To my country I was now a criminal and to my family I was an outcast. With the last of my money, I escaped to Sheffield where I became a refugee and while I was safe, I had lost everything.
“That was until I found a Sanctuary Scholarship, which gives people like me a fresh start. I’ve been able to go to university, I’m free to learn, to question and be myself, in a city I love.”
Donations from alumni and supporters of the University are disbursed via the Hallam Fund, contributing to the Sanctuary Scholarships programme to make a transformational difference to those students.
This year, staff, students, alumni and members of the community will be running the Sheffield Half Marathon in support of Sanctuary Scholarships on Sunday 26 September 2021.
The Sanctuary Scholarships recognise the determination, aspirations and resilience of asylum-seeking students and their academic abilities and potential to succeed.
Consisting of a full tuition fee waiver, an annual maintenance grant, and a bespoke package of tailored support, the scholarships aim to remove the barriers facing asylum seeking students, so they have a real opportunity to transform their lives through education.
Sheffield Hallam University also works with the UK charity Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara) which helps academics identified as at-risk of violence, persecution or repression in their home countries to pursue their research through fully funded PhD scholarships.
Donate to the Hallam Fund supporting Sanctuary Scholarships
Book your place on the Sheffield Half Marathon to support Sanctuary Scholarships