STAR (Student Action for Refugees) is the national network of students building a more understanding and just society where refugees are welcomed and can thrive in the UK.

Our student groups based in colleges and universities and a central team of experts, work together at a number of levels to bring about lasting change. We:

  • Volunteer locally working directly with refugees, building understanding and connections
  • Campaign nationally for policy change and equal access to higher education for refugees
  • Learn about refugee protection and the asylum journey in the UK with experts and peers
Our impact

In 2021-22:

  • Our network of 44 STAR groups across 31 towns and cities came together to take action for refugees and people seeking asylum.
  • STAR groups organised 378 events to educate, campaign, and fundraise for a more welcoming UK, from art exhibitions to cookery classes and film nights.
  • STAR volunteers supported 1580 refugees and people seeking asylum through 46 community projects
  • Our national university application mentoring project supported 100 aspiring students from refugee backgrounds to apply for university and scholarships.
  • The national team supported university staff to develop scholarships for refugees and people seeking asylum, including the launch of 11 new scholarships.
Our vision

Our vision is a society where refugees are welcomed and can thrive as equal members of the community.

Our history

In 1992, students at the University of Nottingham were inspired by the idea of a society that welcomed refugees – so they decided to create one. Andy Davies (then a politics student, now Channel 4 home affairs correspondent) approached the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, pitching the idea of a network of student societies aimed at supporting refugees.

Andy was asked to set up a pilot scheme, and in 1994, the first STAR group was set up, with support from UNHCR and the British Refugee Council. Then-social policy student Elly Hargreave became a co-founder of STAR, growing the movement with groups in London and Edinburgh established by 1996. 

Elly went on to found STAR as a registered charity in 1999 to support a national network of students campaigning, volunteering, and learning together. In 2008, the launch of our Equal Access campaign marked the start of our work improving pathways into higher education for refugees. Today, our network of informed and committed students bring about lasting change by volunteering locally with refugees, campaigning nationally for policy change, and learning about refugee protection in the UK with experts and peers.

With thanks to our funders
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation logo
AB Charitable Trust logo
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