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The Refugee-Led Research Hub (RLRH) is an initiative of the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) at the University of Oxford. It provides support to scholars who have been affected by forced displacement to advance an agenda for refugee-authored scholarship and research in the field of Forced Migration Studies. It achieves this by (1) supporting displaced scholars and researchers to participate meaningfully in research; (2) enabling refugees to develop research and research-related careers; and (3) developing a participatory and co-designed approach to the social sciences and humanities. 

The RLRH is housed between Oxford at the RSC and in Nairobi where its offices are hosted by the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA). The RLRH and its activities are generously supported by the IKEA Foundation, Open Society Foundations (OSF), and the Bosch Foundation.


The RLRH aims to support scholars and researchers from displaced communities, predominantly in Eastern Africa, to be leaders in knowledge production and decision making in the field of Forced Migration Studies and humanitarian research. RLRH endeavours to bring its name to life: displaced scholars and researchers comprise a large majority of the organisational structure and leadership, supported by non-refugee colleagues who work to transfer their skills and privileges for the enrichment of refugee colleagues. With refugees at the centre of organisation leadership, and as the explicit contributors of all academic and research activities, RLRH aims to build an intellectually rich community of scholars and researchers who best understand displacement and are able to speak to the issues with authority, authenticity, and force.

Overview of activities 

At the RLRH, we make efforts to help all affiliates grow and succeed both academically and professionally. A key underpinning of our work is a graduation model that supports individuals in acquiring all the skills they need, beginning with the foundational Online Course in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, and carrying onward to advanced and prestigious intellectual and career opportunities. 

Academic and Research Pillars

RLRH's programmes and research activities are managed by colleagues in the RLRH’s Academic and Research Pillars. 

The Academic Pillar is responsible for developing and running graduate-level academic training programmes. We support learners who have pursued Bachelor’s degrees (or have equivalent education experience) and who may have interest in Master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as post-graduate opportunities. While RLRH specialise in the field of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, we work to prepare colleagues for a breadth of academic careers across the social sciences and humanities, more generally.

The Research Pillar enables researchers with a displacement background to lead primary and secondary research studies in the field of forced migration from start to finish. RLRH 1) collaborates on research projects with partners committed to promote refugee leadership in forced migration research and 2) works with organisations to provide research support, advice, and training.


The RLRH has a global network of affiliated scholars and researchers who participate in activities as staff, mentors, research leads, and learners. A large majority of affiliates have lived experience of forced migration, and are centred in programme design processes, decision-making, and delivery. A core team of nine staff are based between Oxford and Nairobi, with additional graduate research attachments (6), research trainees (14), fellows (12), and online course learners (59) across the world, many of whom are based in eastern Africa.

Ruth and Foni

RLRH team in Nairobi

RLRH courtyard

RSC-BIEA Fellows visit the RLRH

RLRH Festival 2022

Launch Event

To meet colleagues, take a tour of the RLRH premises in Nairobi (beginning at 9:18), and learn more about RLRH activities, you can watch the video from our launch event:

Rationale and relevance

Refugee-authored scholarship is underdeveloped, verging on non-existent, despite a sizable and growing number of academic and research centres that focus on forced displacement. Eighty-five per cent of the world’s refugees live in low- and middle-income countries, and yet very little Refugee and Forced Migration Studies research is published by authors based in these displacement-affected regions, let alone by refugee or displaced people themselves. Refugees and other displaced people also remain under-represented in tertiary education, especially at the graduate level. The RLRH presents an effort to expand the pathway to graduate-level opportunities for displaced scholars, supporting refugee-led scholarship in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, as well as in the social sciences and humanities more broadly. 

The ultimate aim of the RLRH is to create a model that can redistribute power and opportunity towards individuals with lived experience of displacement, recognising that their insights and expertise will advance scholarship in the field of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.

Get involved in RLRH

There are many ways to participate in or support the RLRH, whether you’re a student, researcher, or represent an organisation or funder. If you’re interested in getting involved, in the first instance, please be in touch at