The cloisters at University of Glasgow in the sun

From fleeing Iran to sanctuary in Glasgow

Mohammad Varchandi, from Tehran, Iran, is studying for a Masters in Financial Modelling & Investment thanks to a Sanctuary Scholarship.A student sitting in a chair with the University of Glasgow in the background.

"I was raised in a very open-minded family and started to read about different religions when I was 14, out of curiousity. Later, when I was working as an accountant and on the verge of getting a promotion, I was suspended from my work and arrested for gathering to discuss religion. I was tortured and threatened with execution, and I realised it was time to leave.

"My friend took me to a village near the border and I was smuggled into Turkey, where I waited for my wife to come and join me. From there, we went to Greece and then, in 2021, we travelled to England in a small boat. We knew it was risky, but felt that if we died, we were together.

"I wasn't expecting the University of Glasgow to accept me - it was the place of my dreams. I'm really proud of being here and I think this course will broaden my knowledge of investment and give me a chance to find a good job.

"What the Sanctuary Scholarship does for someone like me is like what CPR does to someone who is about to die. It brings credit and confidence back to people who were lost in the ocean of refusal and ignorance.

"The scholarship has made me feel more useful, more dynamic - a real person. I've seen many talented people in similar circumstances to me who just needed a chance to show themselves. If you are in a position to help people like us, you could be changing society."