National Conference

The STAR National Conference is the only UK conference for students about refugees!

STAR’s annual conference is a fantastic opportunity for all students to:

  • learn about refugees
  • meet other student activists
  • gain practical skills in volunteering, campaigning and awareness raising

STAR conference 2016

Refugee Crisis? What Crisis?

The European Refugee Crisis; it’s a crisis, but it needn’t have been. You can make a difference. This one day conference brings together students, refugees, human rights practitioners and refugee agencies for a thought provoking day of talks and discussions. We will look at how the UK has managed previous refugee arrivals and how this compares with the current crisis.

Speakers confirmed include:

  • Gulwali Passarlay – Gulwali is an Afghan refugee, author of ‘The Lightless Sky’, TEDx speaker, and politics student at the University of Manchester.
  • Jan Shaw – Jan has worked on immigration and asylum for over 25 years, including the evacuation of refugees fleeing the violence in Kosovo. Jan was Refugee Programme Director at Amnesty International UK and is a Trustee of STAR.
  • Maurice Wren, Chief Executive, Refugee Council
  • Emily Ntshangase-Wood – Emily is currently starring in Tanja, an impassioned play about detention in the UK. She is from Zimbabwe and is a volunteer with many organisations, including being Chair of the Maternity Stream of Leeds City of Sanctuary.
  • Emma Williams – Emma is Chief Executive of STAR and has worked with refugees in the UK for 21 years. She has worked with refugees from Vietnam, Kosovo and survivors of torture.
  • We also have workshops from Amnesty International UK & British Future

STAR conference 2015

Fortress Europe: Refugees welcome here?

We are in the middle of the biggest refugee crisis since the 2nd World War. The European Union is responding by closing its borders to people fleeing war and persecution. This one day conference on 7th November 2015 will bring together leading academics, human rights practitioners and refugee agencies for a thought provoking day of talks and discussions.

Speakers include:

STAR Conference 2014

Telling the Truth about Asylum


On November 8th & 9th students from across the UK gathered in London for STAR’s National Student Conference to learn the truth about asylum and to share their ideas on how to provide refugees and asylum seekers with a warm welcome to the UK.

The line up included:

  • Jamal Osman – a multi-award winning journalist and filmmaker specialising sub-Saharan Africa. He has been working with ITN/Channel 4 News since 2008. Recently he retraced and documented the journey he took as a refugee from Somalia to South Africa, fleeing Somalia’s brutal civil war 18 years ago, and met those trying the same journey now. Check out his amazing interactive diary here
  • Paul Dillane is the Executive Director of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), the only organisation dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people who seek asylum in the UK. In his past life, Paul was the lead on refugee litigation at Amnesty International UK and a former immigration and refugee law practitioner and advocate.
  • Jan Shaw is the Refugee Affairs Programme Director at Amnesty International UK and an expert on the UK’s asylum process. In 2013 Jan co-wrote A question of credibility: Why so many initial asylum decisions are overturned on appeal in the UK which examined the reasons why so many of the decisions to refuse asylum are being overturned by Immigration Judges.

Find out more about what we got up to that weekend here.

STAR Conference 2013

Refugees Welcome Here!


On the 9th and 10th of November 2013 students from more than 20 universities joined us for a conference packed with lots of exciting things including talks from:

Jeremy Seabrook, author and journalist (check out his book “The Refuge and the Fortress”)
British Red Cross
Freedom from Torture

There was also lots of action workshops, including campaigning, volunteering, and staging events for refugees with STAR!

STAR Conference 2012

Refugees Welcome Here!


On the weekend of 17th-18th November 2012 STARs gathered from all over the UK for the STAR conference. The conference ‘Refugees Welcome Here!’ included a variety of speakers, question time, and workshops from Refugee Action, Detention Action, Freedom from Torture and many more. Irene from Warwick STAR described the conference as being ‘mind blowingly amazing’.

You can hear more about what we got up to here.

STAR Conference 2011

Refugee Rights: Student activists raise your voice!


On 19-20th November 2011, students from 34 universities participated in the national conference, and were treated to really informative speeches and workshops with refugee activists and experts from UNHCR, Refugee Action, Still Here, Still Human and Detention Action.

You can read about the thoughts and experiences of a STAR activist and look at some great pictures here.

STAR Conference 2010

Refugee: The Global Issue in Your Back Yard

STAR Conference 2010

The 2010 conference was held at Oxford House on the weekend of 20-21st November, and students from over 25 universities came down to London to share ideas and learn about refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

Keynote speakers included Helen Bamber OBE, founder of the Helen Bamber Foundation, Mehri Jafari, an Iranian activist who provided an overview of student protests in Iran and two inspiring Zimbabwean speakers, Gamu Sadomba and Robert Muza. In addition to the speakers, STARs also had the opportunity to interact both through a ‘question time’ style session and a number of workshop activities.

Find out more about what we got up to here.

STAR Conference 2009

Conference 2010

25 universities came to London for the two-day weekend conference on November 7th and 8th. The conference kicked off with two inspiring speakers. Burmese student activist Ko Aung impressed us all with his dedication to the fight for freedom and gave an incredibly moving speech about his experience in Burma and life in the UK as an asylum seeker.

Next up was award winning author Chris Cleave. He told of how a temping job in the kitchens of an immigration detention centre inspired his novel ‘The Other Hand’ about a young Nigerian refugee. Chris spoke of how only two decades ago refugees were seen heroic in their escape to freedom and that the current depiction those seeking asylum as ‘devils’ was completely baffling.

They both inspired conference delegates to believe that, through our myth busting and positive images work, STAR can convince the world that refugee are our heroes!

Get more information on the STAR National Conference 2009.

STAR Conference 2008

Conference 2008

The Conference was held at the Amnesty Human Rights Action Centre on 15th and 16th November. We had the privilege of having Helen Bamber, founder of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and the Helen Bamber Foundation. Helen impressed on us our duty to tell the stories of refugees, to bear witness to their plight and to give these people a voice. She praised student STAR members for having ‘an open mind, looking forward to persuade governments to make changes’.

Our second keynote speaker was exiled journalist Almamy Taal and he talked about his recent book ‘Made Destitute by Law’. Almamy has first-hand experience of destitution and he told the moving story of how he fled to England after being imprisoned and tortured in his home country. He talked about how destitution was a violation of human rights and urged us to “challenge everything and everybody”.

Get more information on the STAR National Conference 2008.

STAR Conference 2007

Conference 2007

The Conference was held at the Amnesty Human Rights Action Centre on 10th and 11th November.

The first keynote speaker was Marie Lyse Numuhoza, a refugee from Rwanda and a project manager at the Scarman Trust. Our second keynote speaker was Melanie McFadyean, journalist and winner of the Amnesty International Media Award. The final keynote speaker was Jon Cuddas, MP for Barking and Dagenham. Our keynote speakers also tackled questions on detention, deportation of HIV sufferers to countries with no access to medicine and legal aid put to them during STAR’s Question Time posed by our members.

Get more information on the STAR National Conference 2007.