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In April 2020, our colleague of well over a decade, Professor Gil Loescher, passed away. Gil was a legend of Refugee Studies. He was a pioneering scholar who brought International Relations to bear on the study of refugees, and critically examined the evolution of UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) over many years. More than that, he was a beloved teacher on the MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies and was influential in the RSC’s formation in the 1980s and early 1990s. He was a scholar, colleague, and friend of great decency, warmth and commitment - one whose resilience and courage in the last decades of his life inspired us all.

Donate to the Gil Loescher memorial Fund

Teaching and research were two of Gil’s great passions. He always looked forward to teaching his “UNHCR and World Politics” options course at the RSC, and was energized by the enthusiasm and curiosity of his students. He remained convinced that emerging scholars, especially scholars from the global South or those who themselves had been displaced, could bring the ideas and conviction that could finally convince those in power to take the steps needed to help refugees.

He also believed that original research, through hours spent trawling through the archives or interviewing those closest to the phenomenon of forced displacement, was an essential task for researchers in this field. In the acknowledgments to his 2001 book, The UNHCR and World Politics: A perilous path, he wrote: “Over the last two decades, I have visited numerous refugee camps in Africa, Asia, and Central America as well as refugee holding and detention centres in Europe and North America… [and] interviewed or spoken with hundreds of officials, human rights and humanitarian aid agency workers, researchers, refugees, and asylum-seekers on every continent.” This was a defining feature of Gil’s work.

In celebration of these two passions, and to continue Gil’s legacy, we, at the RSC, acting in conjunction with Gil’s family and friends, have established the Gil Loescher Memorial Fund. The fund will support Oxford students conducting research on refugee and displacement issues, with preference given to students from low and middle-income countries or who themselves have been displaced.

Donations can be made through the links below:



Applications to the Fund

This Fund has been established to support the costs of original research on any topic related to refugees and forced displacement by a graduate student (Masters or DPhil) at the University of Oxford. 

Terms of Reference:

Awards will be for up to £2000, and eligible costs include travel, subsistence, and data collection costs in any region of the world. 

The Fund will support research with a connection to refugees or forced displacement, ideally with policy relevance. 

All graduate students at the University are eligible to apply, although priority will be given to applicants from the Global South and/or with lived experience of displacement.  

Applications can made once per year (deadline 15th May).

Applicants should submit 1) a 2-page outline of their proposed research with indicative budget, explaining why the funding will make a difference; 2) a short CV of up to 2-pages; 3) arrange for a reference to be provided by their academic supervisor in support of the application. Applications should be sent to

An obituary of Gil Loescher by Alexander Betts

Professor Alexander Betts pays tribute to Gil in this full obituary.

Tributes to Gil from RSC staff

Read tributes to Gil by RSC staff taken from the Candles for Gil website set up by Gil's family.