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The Compass Project

Birkbeck has worked with sanctuary seekers since 2016 when it launched the Compass Project, a programme designed for and targeted towards people from forced migrant backgrounds who would like to continue their education at university.

At the heart of this provision is a commitment to ensuring that the university is welcoming, supportive and accessible to students who face many barriers to access and inclusion in the higher education context.

What is the Compass Project?

  • The Compass Project offers several pathways into university education at Birkbeck for people seeking asylum in the UK. 
  • We run a series of workshops and events designed to provide people from forced migrant backgrounds with the knowledge and skills to start their academic journey. We advise on the level of skill and preparation needed to apply and study at university, giving clear guidance on the best study options.
  • We work closely with colleagues outside of Birkbeck who support and help individuals access educational opportunities, to ensure university is accessible for all who seek to learn.
  • We strive to be a strong voice and critical friend to the wider education sector in promoting and supporting routes into learning for forced migrant communities and sharing the benefits this brings to all. 

What our students say

Community partnerships

The Compass project Film

  • Between 2019 and 2021, the Warsaw-based filmmaker and artist, Anna Konik, collaborated with seven current and former Compass students to make two films about their experiences.
  • A Road to Travel (13 minutes) focuses on the students' university experience and the difference Compass has made to their lives. 
  • Silence Heard Loud (72 minutes) combines beautiful imagery of the students moving around London with their stories, told in their own words. For more information, .

University of Sanctuary

  • Birkbeck is proud to be a University of Sanctuary. The Sanctuary status was awarded to Birkbeck in 2021 and is an accreditation in recognition of the work that the institution does to create a culture of welcome on its campus for members of the forced migrant community.
  • Read more about the University of Sanctuary mission

Further information