This month sees the launch of a new Cumberland Lodge Fellowship place for PhD students supported by the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara).

The collaboration with Cara was inspired by our shared history as charitable responses to the rise of National Socialism in 1930s Germany.

Cara is a charity that provides academics who are suffering persecution, discrimination or violence around the world, including those from war-torn countries, with the practical, financial and personal support to come to the UK and work in safety until they can return to their home countries.

A PhD student who is receiving support from Cara will be selected to join our Cumberland Lodge Fellowship scheme for doctoral students each year. Along with our other PhD fellows, she or he will benefit from inter-cultural exchange and gain transferrable skills in critical thinking, communications, and networking and public engagement.


The first Cara student to take up a Cumberland Lodge Fellowship joined 11 other Fellows at our residential induction retreat at the Lodge on 8-10 September 2017.

Saeed Akkad, from Syria, is partway through a PhD on drug delivery systems that target cancer tissues, at the University of Kent. He came to the UK with support from Cara in 2016. 

Saeed is one of seven new Fellows joining us this academic year. He said, ‘Coming from a place where there is little margin for the freedom of speech and the expression of ideas, I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects that intolerance has on society and its young minds. 

‘I am hoping that my time at Cumberland Lodge will give me the skills and inspiration I need to play an effective role in rebuilding and reshaping my society from my place as a future academic.’

Welcome retreat

The weekend retreat brought together 12 Cumberland Lodge Fellows from the 2016-18 and 2017-19 cohorts. The programme included team-building activities, an introductory talk by Claire Foster-Gilbert (director of Westminster Abbey Institute), interactive workshops on communications and public engagement, and a St Catharine's Session taster.

During their two years in post, our Fellows are closely involved in our inter-disciplinary conferences, seminars, lectures and educational workshops. They also contribute blog posts, reports and short talks to a range of different audiences, receive ongoing mentoring, and gain access to a wide network of contacts, both inside and outside of academia.

Tamanda Walker, a PhD student from the University of Leeds, is another of the new Cumberland Lodge Fellows. She said, ‘As someone whose PhD research spans sociologies of law, race and religion, and touches on the fields of management studies and psychology, I see huge value in being part of a network and organisation that is committed to breaking down silos and ensuring the exchange of ideas across disciplinary boundaries.’

Find out more about our PhD Fellowship schemes here.