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Balliol has always been a compassionate and open community, actively engaging with the world and its challenges. We are proud to have a long-standing history of welcoming people seeking sanctuary, and proud, too, that our students have often led the way by campaigning for and supporting scholarships.

Ongoing conflicts and human rights abuses worldwide mean that increasing numbers of bright students are forced to flee their countries and stop their education. Even the most able students face great uncertainty about whether they can ever return to study.

In 2023 the College established the Balliol Sanctuary Fund, to provide a secure home for students fleeing conflict and repression.


A tradition of welcome

Balliol is proud to have a long history of welcoming scholars seeking sanctuary since at least 1639, when Nathaniel Canopius fled from persecution in Constantinople to study at Balliol.

Balliol took in Belgian refugees in 1914 during the First World War; welcomed Jewish scholars fleeing Germany and Austria following Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s; enabled Hungarian students to pursue their studies at Oxford following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956; and supported refugee scholars from around the world through the Balliol JCR’s Refugee Scholarships in the 1970s and 80s. More recently the College co-funded a Rhodes Scholarship for Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine in 2016, awarded the Balliol Students’ Scholarship for a refugee student in 2018 and with the generous support of Old Members and friends gave sanctuary to two Ukrainian scholars displaced by war in 2022.

Sanctuary Stories

Tibyan BabikerTibyan Babiker (2023, MSc Pharmacology)
Tibyan came to Balliol to study Pharmacology after fleeing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Her scholarship is jointly funded by Balliol and the University, thanks to generous donations from Old Members and friends.

Read Tibyan's story.

Maryna OproshcenkoMaryna Oproshchenko (2022, MSc Financial Economics)
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Maryna came to Oxford to study for an MSc in Financial Economics. That she was able to come to Balliol is thanks to the generosity of Old Members and friends who donated to Balliol's Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

Read Maryna's story.

Sulaiman WihbaSulaiman Wihba (2018, Mathematics)
Sulaiman came to Balliol from Syria, to study Mathematics. He was the inaugural holder of the Balliol Students' Scholarship, established in 2015 by the JCR and MCR and supported by students, Old Members and friends of Balliol.

Read Sulaiman's story.

Simon DradriSimon Dradri (1989, MSc Agricultural Economics)
Simon and his family were displaced by the Ugandan civil war. He came to Balliol in 1989 on the JCR Refugee Scholarship, made possible by Balliol students. He has spent his career working in international development and humanitarian aid.

Read Simon's story.

Viktor Savchenko (photo: Stuart Bebb)Viktor Savchenko (Research Fellow)
Viktor came to Balliol under the British Academy’s Researchers at Risk Fellowship scheme, in association with the Council for At-Risk Academics and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. His time at Oxford was made possible thanks to generous donations to the Balliol Ukraine Crisis Appeal. 

Read Viktor's story.


Please give now to welcome students fleeing war and repression

Please make your gift to the Balliol Sanctuary Fund to help create sustainable, long-term and secure funding for scholars seeking sanctuary from crisis.

  • Gifts of all levels will help to fund scholarships for students seeking sanctuary, covering their full tuition and living costs.
  • Our initial aim is to fund on an ongoing basis at least one undergraduate and one postgraduate sanctuary scholarship.
  • Every donation you make towards this goal will be doubled – thanks to partnerships between the Balliol Sanctuary Fund and a range of College and University funds.

Your gifts will encourage and support these bright minds to pursue their studies at Balliol and develop their skills and knowledge. 

Together, we can build on our community’s proud tradition of support and make a lasting difference for students who have been forced from their homes and countries by conflict and repression.

Every gift from Old Members and friends will make a difference for students seeking sanctuary from crisis. Thank you for all your support.