King's leads universities' response to hosting Ukrainian refugee students and academics

King's has today announced they are partnering with Citizens UK to lead on a sponsorship model for UK universities to best implement the Government's Homes for Ukraine scheme.

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Citizens UK are engaging 20 partners, including King’s, from across business, higher education, faith organisations and schools who have together committed to host 1,000 displaced Ukrainians and aim to bring them to the UK by Easter.

As the UK’s first university to act as a Community Sponsor for a refugee family displaced by the Syrian war, King’s is sharing learnings from that scheme to inform this new initiative and deliver a model for how UK universities might best implement the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. This model will provide a blueprint for how university communities can work together to host displaced students and academics, and a set of resources and detailed guidance on how best to support hosts and refugees through that process.

Under this scheme, the partnering organisations will use their shared experience and resources to identify and place students in universities that offer a similar degree from which they were displaced. The students will be hosted by the university community in suitable homes, with assessments carried out by the Local Authority. Hosts will receive Government funding of £350 per month and personal costs of living will be supported via Universal Credit. Any additional direct financial support needed by the students would be covered by the hosting university. 

This initiative builds on King’s longstanding work into creating opportunities for forcefully displaced people and sits alongside King’s Sanctuary Programme, formed in 2015 in response to the global issue of forced displacement which affects more than 80 million people worldwide. The programme initiates and leads on projects that create positive opportunities for young people whose education has been disrupted due to being displaced and includes the Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA), Sanctuary Scholarships and the King’s Refugee Community Sponsorship Scheme.

In December 2021, King’s became the first UK university to resettle a refugee student and their family as part of the UK Community Sponsorship scheme. The King’s Refugee Community Sponsorship Scheme was developed in partnership with the Home Office, UNHCR and Citizens UK. It has provided an opportunity for a refugee student, who has been displaced as a result of the Syrian conflict, and their family to find a new and welcoming home in London. King’s is developing this model via an ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant to support other UK universities to become refugee sponsors as part of a wider ambition to develop new education-led complementary pathways for forcibly displaced people worldwide.

Drawing on King’s and its partners’ experience of leading initiatives for refugee sponsorship and education, the proposed model will enable participating universities to best implement the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

It is absolutely critical that we do all we can to help and support students from Ukraine continue their education and realise their potential, in the midst of this refugee crisis. Through our experiences as a Community Sponsor and in developing King’s Sanctuary Programme, we will be supporting other universities to share our learnings and work together to positively impact the lives of these students and their families. – Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal of King’s College London
As the UK’s first university to act as a Community Sponsor for a refugee student and their family displaced by the Syrian war, King’s is ideally placed to support other universities in their ambitions to host displaced students and academics. This is a crucial opportunity to develop and deliver a joined up cross sectoral response.– Professor Bronwyn Parry, Director of King’s Sanctuary Programme,

Jonathan Cox, Deputy Director of Citizens UK said: “We are delighted that King’s College London is working with us to help resettle Ukrainian refugees, and co-ordinate the higher education sector to respond to the crisis. Together we can help this scheme reach scale, ensure that it is safe for refugees and sponsors alike, become sustainable beyond the initial six months, and support universities and other civil society organisations to be at the forefront of the UK’s humanitarian sponsorship scheme for Ukraine.”

In this story

Bronwyn Parry

Bronwyn Parry

Professor of Global Health & Social Medicine

Shitij Kapur

Shitij Kapur

President & Principal of King's College London