Over 70 UK universities are offering scholarships for refugee and asylum seeking students to allow them to study. Student Action for Refugees supports universities to create and maintain scholarship programmes and helps advertise these opportunities to applicants. In this blog you can find out why they are needed and how to apply, as well as how UCAS and STAR are supporting refugee and asylum seeking applicants on their journey to university.
In the UK people seeking refugee protection can’t access higher education. Although they’ve come here legally, fleeing persecution to claim asylum under international law, the UK classes asylum seekers as international students. They are charged international fees, unable to access student loans and unable to work, meaning that higher education, a right for all under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 26), is out of reach. The asylum process is difficult and stressful and can take as long as five years, leaving individuals in limbo unable to work or learn with their lives on hold – just for seeking protection according to their rights.
This isn’t just for asylum seekers, people with humanitarian protection status (a status awarded by the UK Government), leave to remain from an asylum claim, and some people who lived their whole lives in this country but have not had recognised residency can also be held back in this way. Find out who is affected and how.
Student Action for Refugees (STAR) has run its Equal Access Campaign for ten years, working to change this reality. STAR believes that people seeking protection shouldn’t be classed as international students and should have access to education to help rebuild their lives and allow them to contribute to UK society. Together with a coalition of organisations they’ve campaigned to create scholarships at UK universities to allow asylum seekers and refugees access higher education like any other UK student. They provide expert support and advice to universities to help create programmes and encourage students to campaign for change on campus, they also campaign internationally, recently showcasing the work of UK universities helping refugees and asylum seekers at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva. Through STAR’s work and the work of universities and organisations across the UK, 74 UK universities have created scholarship programmes to help refugees and asylum seekers access the higher education they need and the movement is growing.
Over the last year, STAR and UCAS have teamed up to create a package of support measures to help these groups apply to university and find the funding they need to be able to learn, including specific information and advice for asylum seeker and refugee applicants.
This spring, scholarship programmes are again open for applications and are being advertised by STAR. A full list of programmes can be found on their website, along with a downloadable list with application closing dates. STAR’s equal access pages also have links to access courses, guides to applying, and to further support from other organisations in the sector.