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This blog post tells the story of Moe, one of the sanctuary scholars who is participating in my research into refugees and online higher education. It is part of a series which aims to offer a glimpse into the lives of some of the sanctuary scholars in online higher education. The background to the series can be found in the post, Sanctuary Scholars’ Stories, and more information is available via my academic blog – see Openness meets anonymity/attribution in my research – some ethical dilemmas and a way forward.

Moe, a Syrian man in his early 40s, came to the UK in late 2015 seeking refuge, and has been living in Leicester ever since. In the ten years before leaving Syria, he worked for the United Nations, including a stint in the Security and Safety Department, which he feels gave him a good foundation of practical field experience for a career in security.  

University of Leicester, seen from Victoria Park (Image by Gabi Witthaus, CC-BY)

Moe currently works full-time in another city in the Midlands, with a long daily commute. He also has family caring commitments, and so has very little time for himself. He says:  

I feel like I wanted to improve myself. I wanted to gain something for myself, since I’m here. According to my current situation, I can’t get engaged in anything, let’s say official or full-time learning because I can’t afford it time-wise, or financially, everything. It’s not easy. So, choosing an online programme gives me the flexibility I need… It’s something very personal. Seriously, when I turn my laptop on or my iPad and start reading or studying, these are the only moments I have during the day, that I feel I’m doing something for myself. 

Moe already has an MBA from the Syrian Virtual University, and has undertaken various professional training programmes on topics such as “effective negotiation”, “negotiating diversity conflict” and “transformative mediation skills”, indicating his interest in making a difference to communities in conflict. However, he felt that he could benefit further from formal academic knowledge, and so applied for the Sanctuary Scholarship for the MA in Intelligence and Security. Moe says of the opportunity to participate in this course: 

I had a dream and the determination to study [at the University of Leicester] but the financial barrier was always there till the opportunity of this scholarship came up. The second part of the dream was the reality of my home country and the very bad security situation there, a very complicated situation with international influences and alliances. As soon as I read about the Sanctuary scholarship the University of Leicester is offering… I was so glad to know that my dreams would come true and I would be equipped with needed knowledge to help build up my country again hopefully in the near future. 

Moe has completed his Master’s degree and graduated, thus standing as a beacon and an inspiration to all Sanctuary Scholars – many congratulations to him!

I would like to thank Moe for sharing his story, and to invite anyone who wants to share their own story via this blog to go to the Write here page and start writing. Contributors can choose to use their real names or remain anonymous. All posts are moderated by Gill Ryan and myself, and we appreciate all contributions!