This page provides information about the University’s response to the situation in Sudan, as well as advice and support for staff and students impacted.
Since 15 April, fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has led to devastating consequences for civilians across the country, especially in Khartoum and Darfur. During the first two months of the conflict, over a million people have been displaced including 250,000 who have crossed into neighbouring countries as refugees.
Oxford has a significant number of Sudanese students and staff, and students and staff with dual Sudanese citizenship, Sudanese family, or who identify as part of the Sudanese diaspora. The University has written to staff and students from Sudan, to offer welfare and other types of support.
Students and staff affected by the conflict may face a range of challenges. These may include the implications for mental health and wellbeing, access to funding, immigration status in the UK, and access to accommodation during vacation periods. Many have lost loved ones, or helped evacuate their family and friends.
The University stands in solidarity with all students and staff affected by the crisis. The University is working to ensure all affected members of the University community are supported as much as possible. We encourage colleagues across the Collegiate University to be aware of and sensitive to these challenges.
We encourage affected students and staff to speak to their supervisors or line managers if they are affected by these events. There are a number of welfare services available to provide support to you at this time, confidentially and free of charge.
- The University Counselling Service currently has an average wait time of 9 days, but is prioritising making appointments to see students affected by the conflict. The Counselling Service has also prepared guidance for staff on coping with a traumatic event. The Looking after you webpage also offers advice relating to wellbeing.
- A range of other mental health and wellbeing support services are available, including at short-notice.
Any students who have been affected by the conflict in Sudan who are experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to discuss their financial situation with their dedicated college officer (this varies but can be Welfare Officer, Senior Tutor, Bursar etc dependent on college) to explore any sources of funding available locally. Once this has been established and where there is a requirement for central support, students will be eligible to apply to the central Oxford Hardship Fund for assistance during the Long Vacation period. There is no separate strand of support available for Sudanese students, but this Fund is available to respond to a range of global emergencies, where students finances are impacted in the short term in this way, with awards of up to £8,000 available.
Students can email the student immigration team at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have concerns about their student immigration status or related to the possibility of staying in the UK to work following study. The compliance side of the team would advise students on their visa situation should they need to suspend study due to the situation.
Contacts within Oxford
The Oxford Sudanese Society has provided informal advice and support to Sudanese students and staff across the University, as well as organising a range of successful fundraising and awareness events. They can be reached at email@example.com
The Africa in Oxford Initiative (AfOx) provides scholarships to students from Africa, including those with Sudanese nationality.
Asylum Welcome is a local NGO, which offers services that include immigration advice.
Oxford Sanctuary Community aims to provide advice and support to students who are affected by displacement and has a designated contact within the University (firstname.lastname@example.org), who can help to navigate relevant sources of guidance and support.
Advice for Departments and Colleges
Based on consultation with Sudanese students and staff, we have written to all Colleges and Departments, and highlighted a series of recommendations for how they can support those affected by the conflict. These include:
- Awareness – be aware of and sympathetic to the situation faced by Sudanese students and staff in Oxford, and the resources that are available to them. These resources can only be used effectively if affected students and staff are directed to them when needed.
- Contact – ensure that all Sudanese students and others affected by the conflict (including dual nationals) have been contacted by Departments/Colleges. Our experience shows that some affected students or staff are not registered as dual nationals.
- Examinations – consider applying dispensations/extensions to examinations and summative assessments, where students have been affected by the conflict.
- Financial assistance – recognise that the conflict may result on the significant disruption or loss of financial support, creating grounds for applying for additional financial support.
- Accommodation – Colleges are encouraged able to support Sudanese students’ access to long Summer vacation accommodation.
- Welfare support – publicise the particular welfare support that your college or department provides; and consider prioritising students or staff affected by the conflict. It is also worth being aware that some students or staff may require welfare support in order to access other forms of assistance. Students have reported that the experience of detailing their trauma in the paperwork for mitigating circumstances, or financial support, has been distressing.
Finally, note that the Sudanese Society is very keen to consult on any and all of these points. Consider contacting them at email@example.com in order to hear more of their experience, and the kinds of support which would be helpful and feasible.