Syrian refugee achieves long-awaited graduation


A Syrian refugee has told of her elation after finally graduating as a doctor with the University of Leeds – ten years after she first began studying in her home country.

Loubna El Saboni began her medical degree in 2012, but after four years had to abandon her studies as she and her family fled Syria for their safety. 

Arriving in the UK, she set about finishing her degree by finding a UK medical school. She secured a meeting with the University of Leeds, which accepted her application through UCAS, and earned a place at the School of Medicine. 

Two years into her degree, Loubna became pregnant but was determined to finish her studies while raising her daughter, who is now three years old. 

She says: “Five years ago, the University of Leeds gave me the opportunity to be heard, and offered a glimmer of hope that I might be able to achieve my dream of being a doctor. 

“I’m relieved to finally graduate and start my career as a doctor. I’ve lived so much of my life as a medical student, I’m excited to know what it’s like on the other side.  

“There were times I thought I wouldn’t get to this point. I’ve been through some real challenges – tackling a medical degree is not an easy task, let alone with a daughter and after leaving everything behind in Syria and starting again here in the UK.  

“I hope my experience paves the way for other people to know that no matter what their background, they can have a second chance at achieving what they want to. And I hope I’ve given my daughter a strong female example and taught her never to give up on her dreams." 

After a total of ten years at medical school, Loubna will take up a position as a Foundation Year One doctor in the East Cheshire Trust. 

Louise Gazeley, Academic Sub-Dean and Clinical Lecturer at the School of Medicine, said: “Loubna is a fantastic example of a student showing determination and perseverance to achieve her dream, overcoming so many obstacles that came her way during the already challenging experience of medical school. 

“Her story is truly inspirational and we’re so proud that she’s a part of our University of Leeds community.” 

Further information 

For more information, please contact Corporate Communications Officer, Becky Pascoe at 

Image credit: Loubna El Saboni