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Community Language Access Scheme – Deirdre McKenna

Community Language Access Scheme – Deirdre McKenna –
This scholarship project will explore the need for an ESOL/ community language access scheme to support refugee or asylum seeker (RAS) learners in the local area who lack opportunities for English language/ EAP support. The initial stage of the project will involve an exploration to assess the need for such provision, as well as the potential for collaboration between the Language Centre (LC), the Lifelong Learning Centre, and the School of Education. I will also research the approach taken by others in setting up similar projects, such as the work by Aleks Palanac at the University of Leicester (Palanac, 2019). Based on these initial findings, the longer-term aim would be to provide courses, workshops, or tutorials to accommodate the needs of RAS learners; however, the specific timeline is currently unclear due to the current Covid-19 restrictions.

The motivation for this project comes from my previous work with the RAS community while working at the University of Sussex, as well as encouragement from Alex Ding to broaden the provision of the LC to incorporate the local community. Such a project seems appropriate in terms of the university’s strategy of civic engagement and creating stronger community links (University of Leeds, 2020), as well as the values promoted by the ‘Universities of Sanctuary’ to ‘welcome people seeking sanctuary into their communities and seek to foster a culture of awareness and inclusivity’ (Universities of Sanctuary, 2020a, p.1). It is worth noting that the University of Leeds is not yet a member of the Universities of Sanctuary (2020b), suggesting there may be a need for greater participation in such projects.

Palanac, A. 2019. Renaissance of the Gatekeepers: Establishing a culture of welcome for refugees and asylum seekers at the University of Leicester’s English Language Teaching Unit. Language Learning in Higher Education 9(1) pp. 117-125

University of Leeds. 2020. Making a Global Impact Draft vision and strategy 2020-30. [Accessed: 04 August 2020.] Available from:

Universities of Sanctuary. 2020a. Resource Pack [Accessed: 28 August 2020] Available from:

Universities of Sanctuary. 2020b. List of Universities of Sanctuary [Accessed: 04 August 2020] Available from: