Supporting refugees, asylum seekers, and those with limited leave to remain in the UK

It can be very difficult to understand how to support refugees, asylum seekers, and students with limited leave to remain in the UK, especially if their immigration status is insecure or due to change. We have worked with expert organisations, including STAR Network, Refugee Education UK and We Belong to help clarify what you can do to help and support young students' aspirations for higher education.

Pre-application and research phase

  • Identify students who are refugees, asylum seekers, and those with limited leave to remain in the UK (the pastoral team in your school or college may be able to help with this). Flag that they may be able to get help if they want to go to university or college.  
  • Signpost resources that will help students find specialist information and advice. Refugees and those seeking asylum can find more support from Refugee Education UK and Student Action for Refugees (STAR). Students with insecure immigration status (e.g. Limited Leave to Remain - LLR) will find the We Belong website helpful. There is also information on
  • Students with a pending asylum claim, and those who have limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK are usually not eligible for student finance so will be charged international fees. Make sure they know this before they apply, and check the rules for your area of the UK on the UKCISA website.
  • Some universities and colleges offer scholarships and fee waivers to asylum seekers and those with limited/discretionary leave to remain in the UK– direct students to the STAR page on scholarships for full details. 
  • Students with refugee status or humanitarian protection are normally eligible for student finance and home fees in the UK. 
  • If students are uncertain about their status, UKCISA will be able to help, and this guide from Central England Law Centre will help clarify eligibility. It is a good idea for the student to contact the university or college directly before applying to discuss their circumstances.
  • Check whether students are also care experienced as they may be eligible for additional support (see information for care experienced students elsewhere in this toolkit). 
  • Students from forced migrant background can be more likely to experience difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing, so ensure they are aware of what support is available and how to access it – and to tick the box on the UCAS application to get support if they have an existing condition (see above). Be mindful that there is considerable stigma in some countries and cultures so students may be hesitant to share this information. 

When they’re applying

  • Encourage students to share their circumstances in the ‘more about me’ section of the application (for 2023 entry onwards), explaining that this information will be used to connect them to any support the university may offer. To find out more about sharing this information, visit the FAQs page.
  • Make sure students select the correct residential category on their UCAS application, to help the institution set the correct fee status – UKCISA can offer help and guidance.  
  • Use the reference to flag if a student is unable to provide proof of achieved qualifications or training. Contact the university or college directly to discuss this, as there is diversity in how each addresses this issue. 
  • Encourage eligible students to tick the care experience box in the UCAS application so they can get the right support. 
  • Advise students to use their UCAS personal statement to outline their previous study, particularly if they are unable to provide proof of qualifications, or did not complete the course. We offer a personal statement guide, developed by students, to help refugees and asylum seekers write their personal statements. 


  • If a student’s status changes after they’ve submitted their application, they need to update their details and contact the university or college immediately, as this can affect their fee status and eligibility for student finance. 
  • If the student is unhappy with, or unclear about, the fee status set by the university or college, they should contact them to discuss this. UKCISA can also help, and Coram Children’s Legal Centre gives free legal advice to young people. 
  • Remind students to apply for scholarships and grants as early as possible – places are limited. STAR have a guide to applying on their scholarships page

During Confirmation and Clearing

  • Finding a course through Clearing may be a challenge for anyone relying on a scholarship (rather than student finance) to go to university or college. If they’re looking at alternatives, get them to contact the university or college directly to discuss their situation. 
  • If a student is unsuccessful in getting a place this time, make them aware of alternative options – this guide to alternatives from REUK can help them progress in their education until any barriers are removed. 

Preparing for the transition to university or college


For more support

How do I get to university? Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Refugees and asylum seekers - how do I get to university?

This video from Refugee Education UK and the University of Sussex helps to explain how you can apply for university if you are a refugee or asylum seeker in the UK.