Sarah Spencer CBE COMPAS Director of Strategy and Senior Fellow

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Full Publications list (PDF)

Sarah Spencer is Director of Strategy and a Senior Fellow at COMPAS and was Director of the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity from its inception in 2014 until March 2019. She is Chair of the Board of Directors of IMISCOE, the European network of migration research institutes and scholars, and a member of Kellogg College, Oxford’s largest and most international graduate college.

Sarah’s research interests focus on irregular migrants, on which she has been PI in projects on national and city responses to irregular migrants in Europe, initiated under an Open Society Fellowship, and on families with No Recourse to Public Funds in the UK; on integration (on which she is collaborating with Katharine Charsley, University of Bristol), human rights and equality issues, and on the policy making process. Sarah was awarded her doctorate at Erasmus University Rotterdam, has an MPhil from University College London and took her first degree at the University of Nottingham.

At the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity, Sarah is responsible for the City Initiative on Migrants with Irregular Status in Europe (C-MISE); and for Oxford’s contribution to the Urban Innovative Action project in Utrecht, the Refugee Launchpad. She was Director of its Autumn Academy symposium from 2016-2018 and responsible for its award-winning online tool to assess the eligibility of migrant families for local authority support.

Sarah was a co-founder of the network of equality and human rights organisations in Britain, the Equality and Diversity Forum (now ‘Equally Ours’) and its Chair for ten years (2002-2012); a Commissioner and Deputy Chair (2003-2005) of a statutory body, the Commission for Racial Equality; Programme Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (1990-2003); and Director of the human rights NGO, Liberty (1984-1989). She has twice been seconded into the Cabinet Office strategy unit to contribute to studies on migration policy and has been a member of government Taskforces and advisory bodies. In 2007 she received a CBE for services to equality and human rights.


CitiesEuropean UnionIntegrationPoliciesPoliticsRightsWelfare


Action towards inclusion in Europe

Sarah Spencer, Ben Gidley, Caroline Oliver, Jonathan Price, Emma Newcombe and Nathan Grassi | December 2014 - June 2016

Attitudes to Migrants, Communication and Local Leadership (AMICALL)

Ben Gidley, Sarah Spencer, Michael Keith and Vanessa Hughes | 2011 – 2012

Changing status, changing lives? The socio-economic impact of EU Enlargement on low wage migrant labour in the UK

Bridget Anderson, Martin Ruhs and Sarah Spencer | March 2004 – May 2005

City Initiative on Migrants with Irregular Status in Europe (C-MISE)

Sarah Spencer, Nicola Delvino, Marie Mallet-Garcia and Nathan Grassi | March 2017 to February 2019

Equality for whom?

Sarah Spencer | 2010 – 2011

Impact of Admission Criteria on the Integration of Migrants (IMPACIM)

Sarah Spencer and Caroline Oliver | December 2011 – October 2012

Inclusive Cities

Sarah Spencer, Jacqui Broadhead and Denis Kierans | March 2017 - May 2022

Marriage Migration and Integration

Sarah Spencer and Hiranthi Jayaweera | 2013 – 2015

Migration Services in Wales

Jonathan Price, Sarah Spencer, Carlos Vargas-Silva and Yvonni Markaki | January 2015 – March 2017

Muslims and Community Cohesion in Britain

Hiranthi Jayaweera and Sarah Spencer | June 2005 – June 2007

Online Tool to Improve the Assessment of Destitute Families’ Eligibility for Support

Sarah Spencer and Jacqui Broadhead | May 2016 - May 2019

Service Provision to Irregular Migrants in Europe

Sarah Spencer and Vanessa Hughes | 2012 – 2015

The role of Migrant Health and Social Care Workers in Ageing Societies

Sarah Spencer, Isabel Shutes, Vanessa Hughes and Bridget Anderson | 2007 - 2009

Utrecht Refugee Launchpad

Caroline Oliver and Sarah Spencer | November 2016 - October 2019