English Language Education

A University of Sanctuary – English Language Initiatives

We offer a number of different services to support English language learning and foster community building for people seeking refuge in Edinburgh.

We would like to welcome those arriving in Edinburgh and offer a space to come together and create a closer community. COL is working with colleagues within the University and further afield at local government and third sector organisations to help meet the needs of our community.

The English Language Education (ELE) team at COL is pleased to offer free drop-in Sanctuary English language classes at Paterson’s Land for people seeking refuge in Edinburgh.  The next series of free courses start in March, details below on how to apply!


Sanctuary English - Free English Language Classes


  • The Centre of Open Learning is offering free ESOL classes for those seeking refuge in Scotland. People seeking sanctuary with any displaced person status are welcome to attend English Language six week short courses that will run at the University of Edinburgh Holyrood Campus.  
  • These classes are for people aged 18 years and over.
  • Please note that you must register for these classes with the Centre of Open Learning (COL) to secure a space.


Paterson’s Land , Holyrood Campus, The University of Edinburgh EH8 8AQ


  • Applications open 6th Feb and close 6th March 2023
  • Block 2 starts: Week beginning 13th March 2023
  • 1 x 2 hour class per week (3 levels from CEFR A2-C1) for 6 weeks at 4-6pm
  • Please note that we do not offer A1 beginner classes

How to Apply:

Register with: col.admissions@ed.ac.uk or apply here:

Apply to attend Sanctuary English classes

For more information about English Language Sanctuary Initiatives at the University of Edinburgh please contact Amelia.Harker@ed.ac.uk

Please note: Other ESOL providers can be found at: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/schools-learning/english-speakers-languages-classes-support. These classes are intended for people who will be living in Scotland for some time and are not intended for visiting students or tourists.


"Sanctuary: Film"

"Sanctuary: Film" is a project connected to the Sanctuary English Language Classes at the Centre for Open Learning through our English Language Education (ELE) team. 

"Sanctuary: Film" is free and open to all displaced people in the local community who would like to join us.  (Please note that this offer to watch Scottish themed films together is open to any status of displaced person whether refugee, asylum seeker, limited leave to remain, Homes for Ukraine, Hong Kong migrant, Afghan or Syrian resettlement programmes,  or any other associated status.)

Everyone is welcome!

More information >

A University of Sanctuary 

The University of Edinburgh was the first university in Scotland to be accredited as a University of Sanctuary. We seek to promote a welcoming culture within the University and our wider communities for those seeking sanctuary. 

We are a global University and we have always had a commitment to diversity and a community in which students and staff feel valued and welcome.

Find out more about the wider university initiatives >