Project Outline: How can the UK's asylum system be reformed to be more compassionate and efficient?

This Summer, I will be researching how the UK can reform its asylum system to tackle the backlog and ensure a humane experience for asylum-seekers. The project will be carried out during a time of great political change, with new Conservative immigration policies and a potential new government.
Project Outline: How can the UK's asylum system be reformed to be more compassionate and efficient?

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Humanity in the Home Office: A Study of the Impact of UK Immigration Policy on the Asylum System and How it Should Change.

Supervised by Prof. Thom Brooks, Department of Law and Government, University of Durham


  • Synthesise current literature and undertake qualitative research to determine the fundamental reasons behind the UK's asylum system's inefficiency.
  • Determine the impact that the new Nationalities and Borders Act, as well as the introduction of the Rwanda Policy will have on the system.
  • Make suggestions in a policy document of what changes are required to tackle the asylum backlog, prevent the misuse of resources and provide a more humane experience for asylum seekers.

Project Background

Immigration policy is a highly divisive topic in the UK, with opposing attitudes to the asylum system constituting a hostile debate that can manifest in xenophobic attitudes and polarisation. The introduction of the Nationalities and Borders Act emphasises the routes that asylum seekers take to get to the UK in the determination of accessible protection. Moreover, the government’s treaty with Rwanda offers a controversial policy centred on deterrence. I want to analyse the effectiveness of new changes and consider how these policies are impacting the refugee experience with respect to public opinion.The UNHCR recently published an audit into the UK asylum system and found it “an inefficient and unnecessarily complicated system”. I plan deconstruct the politicisation of immigration policy to understand the factual evidence of what is a safe an efficient system of processing asylum claims in a compassionate manner. I will also include the wider implication of my policy recommendations in terms of cultural integration and public discourse.
Officers often do not have the training or enough time to carry out all the tasks expected of them which can result in inaccuracies in outcomes. This is not only unsustainable but also jeopardises the welfare of asylum-seekers, often who are traumatised, victims of trafficking and significant human rights abuses. I will consider the wider experience of people going through the asylum system, such as the common occurrence of refugee homelessness once an application has been approved, so that the system not only processes applications fairly and quickly but also help to prepare refugees for life in the UK.
My research will be undertaken in a time of political uncertainty, with a likely change in government mid-way. I will utilise this time to consult party manifestos providing a range of immigration strategies. It will make my research even more valuable as the incoming party will have to reconstruct a broken system.


My research will synthesise knowledge from the legal implications to the political pressures to the economic factors. I will work with my supervisor closely to ensure the sources and primary literature I use are politically balanced. I will conduct a qualitative analysis by interviewing people close to the asylum-seeker experience, including activists with experience in international political roles and charity workers. I also hope to interview Home Officers for insights into the practical downfalls of the system. I will refer to foreign asylum systems, accounting for contextual differences to gain new perspectives on the issues. 

I will incorporate a quantitative analysis in my economic review how a system operates, however it should be considered that often statistics surrounding asylum-seekers can be inaccurate, due to its unofficial nature.


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