The Lancaster Sanctuary Fellowship

CARA (the Council for At-Risk Academics) was founded in 1933 by Britain's foremost academics and scientists, in response to Hitler's decision to expel hundreds of leading scholars from German universities on racial grounds. Their founders defined their goal as 'the relief of suffering and the defence of learning and science'. Since 1933, thousands have been saved. But many more still need help.


CARA is delighted that Lancaster University has agreed to match an annual Fellowship to support academics at risk

Not only will this initiative offer temporary sanctuary to colleagues in need, but it will help develop their skills and build lasting networks so they can one day return to help the future rebuilding of their home countries. All Fellows bring unique experiences and perspectives to their host institutions, and help to enrich their new host communities. 

Please will you donate?

CARA must look to partners in universities and similar institutions to offer places and support for academics at risk. They also need funds - the more they have, the more people they can help. It costs from £13,000 to host an at-risk academic in Lancaster for one year and from £34,000 upwards for a family. All donations will help us towards the offer of life-changing support for academics at risk.

You can make a donation to the Fellowship below:

The Fellowship

CARA will help identify at-risk academics from countries where they are unable to work because of the real danger of persecution, prison or death. The Fellowship will provide crucial sanctuary for scholars, so that when they are able to return home, they can do so with a stronger international network and the benefits of having advanced their research in a safe, supportive environment.

More about CARA

Anonymous former recipient of CARA support who completed their PhD at Lancaster

Lancaster has been part of the CARA network for a number of years and has already supported a small number of PhD students, as the following excerpt testifies: 

“In a time when everything was uncertain … it was not enough to be away from Syria and to be safe, while I was in Lancaster the sense of danger came with the possibility of losing my lifetime dream of continuing my studies. At this point, with the risk of losing everything (a home and a dream), CARA's organisation offered a glimpse of hope through its support to academics at risk. I was successful in my application for funding, and the support from both Lancaster University and CARA has enabled me to finish my PhD.”


Philanthropic Opportunity

In an ideal world, academic freedom is an inviolable right; sadly, in some corners of the real world, it is a privilege denied to academic colleagues.

For Lancaster, academic freedom was a founding principle: Patet omnibus veritas (Truth Lies Open to All). It remains a cornerstone of our research community’s life and work. For this reason, we are delighted to announce the launch of the Lancaster University Sanctuary Fellowship. The fellowship will provide a safe place at Bailrigg for scholars who face persecution and barriers to research freely in their own countries, whether because of conflict, violence or political oppression.  

With a rapidly increasing number of academics needing support, there is a corresponding urgency to raise awareness of their plight and to secure funding to help them secure a safe haven in which to live and work. We want to be able to offer facilities for this purpose at Lancaster.  Working alongside the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), the Refuge Fellowship will enable an academic or student at risk to spend time in safety in the UK to further their work. If sufficient funding can be raised, this would include the families of the academics we are supporting.

CARA was the Times Higher Education’s Charity Partner for 2017; with Lancaster named the Times & Sunday Times University of the Year for 2018, the time is right to champion this vital and morally pressing need.

As a globally significant, research-intensive university, Lancaster is committed to meeting its responsibilities to the international community of scholars and to helping those at risk.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mark E. Smith, is a strong advocate for the project. As he explains, “I regard this as an important example of Lancaster’s culture and ethos of fair play and inclusivity. For that reason, and to help launch the initiative, I have set aside £20,000 to provide match funding for donations that support our Lancaster Sanctuary Fellowship. I am also donating my own money to the project. Please join me in making a donation today”.

CARA asks host institutions to provide a full fee waiver and to provide in-kind and direct financial assistance to the Fellow and any accompanying family dependents.  It costs from £13,000 to host an at-risk academic in Lancaster for one year and from £34,000 upwards for a family.

We invite you to become a donor to the Lancaster Sanctuary Fellowship campaign and join our special group of philanthropists at Lancaster.   

All donations, whatever their amount, will help us towards the offer of life-changing support for academics at risk.   

The pledge of a regular donation will contribute to the Fellowship’s long-term sustainability and allow Lancaster to help more scholars threatened with persecution.          

To make a donation now please follow the links above.

If you are a member of staff at Lancaster University, you can also donate via salary sacrifice here

Our long-term aim is to make Lancaster both a City and a University of Sanctuary. The idea is not new; Sheffield became the first City of Sanctuary in 2007. However, the need is increasing and we want to do our part to protect academic freedom.

Get in touch:

To find out more about The Lancaster Refuge Fellowship, please contact in the first instance 

Dr Sarah Marsden


Development & Alumni Relations‌ Office

C Floor, University House

Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YW

T +44(0)1524 594109

Contact a member of the Alumni and Development Team