This report outlines how individuals at the University of Leicester’s English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) re-evaluated their role as Gatekeepers to the University by implementing new measures to facilitate the admission of a group for whom the gates would typically be shut: refugees and asylum seekers (RASs). It describes how, incrementally and in response to the human stories of individuals who were shut out, these ELTU staff overcame challenges to develop a three-tiered system of support for RASs: free general and academic English classes from beginner to advanced levels; free places on full-time pre-sessional EAP courses to facilitate progression from IELTS 4.0 to IELTS 6.5/7.0; further support and progression opportunities, including access to further study and careers guidance. When being awarded University of Sanctuary status in November 2018, this model was hailed as one of good practice by the awarding committee. The strength of this bottom-up, needs-based approach is that it puts fundamental language needs at the centre, ensuring there is something available for every RAS who wishes to study, and there are clear progression routes available. In this way, no RAS student is turned away from the gates of the academy, and the role of the gatekeeper is recast.

DOI: 10.1515/cercles-2019-0006
ISSN: 2191-6128