Search
If you're a refugee or asylum seeker applying to higher education, there's support available to help you with finance and your studies.
Relevant to

It's a good idea to contact course providers before you apply, to discuss what support they can offer you. This will depend on your circumstances, and you will need to let them know your refugee status.


Refugee and asylum seeker status

In the UK, a refugee or asylum seeker is a person who has fled their country, and is seeking protection because of a fear of being persecuted due to their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

  • Refugee – you have been given permission to stay in the UK, and granted official ‘refugee’ status. You have a letter from the UK Border Agency to confirm this. 
  • Humanitarian protection – you have permission to stay in the UK for humanitarian reasons. You have a letter from the UK Border Agency to confirm this.
  • Asylum seeker – you are applying for asylum, or you are waiting for a decision. 
  • Limited leave to remain (LLR) or discretionary leave to remain (DLR) – you were refused asylum, but have been given permission to stay in the UK. You have a letter from the UK Border Agency to confirm this.

Tuition fees and financial help

The financial help available, and tuition fees you need to pay, will depend on your refugee status, your nationality, and where you live (your residential status). 

Course providers charge different tuition fees for different categories of students, so make sure you enter the correct status on your application. These are known as ‘home status’ and ‘overseas status’ rates. 

  • Refugee: you can apply for student loans and will be considered a ‘home student’ for calculating the tuition fees you need to pay.
  • Humanitarian protection: if you have been resident in the UK for three years or more, you may be able to apply for student loans. You will be considered a ‘home student’ for calculating the tuition fees you need to pay.
  • Asylum seeker: you are usually considered an ‘overseas student’, which means you may not be able to receive student loans, and you might have to pay higher tuition fees. However, some universities and colleges offer scholarships to students seeking asylum in the UK — find out more about Article 26 scholarships.
  • Indefinite leave to remain (ILR): if you have lived in the UK for three years or more, you can apply for student loans and will be considered a ‘home student’ for calculating the fees you need to pay.
  • Discretionary leave to remain (DLR): you will usually be considered an ‘overseas student’, which means you may not be able to get student loans, and you might have to pay higher tuition fees. However, some universities and colleges offer scholarships to students seeking asylum in the UK — find more about Article 26 scholarships.

If you are aged 17 or under, or your status changes

When you turn 18, your status may change. If your status changes (for example, you are granted refugee status after you have applied to university), it is important that you let your course provider know as soon as possible. Admissions staff will be able to give you advice about your individual situation. 


Need more support?

If you need further information or advice about higher education study as a refugee, the following organisations can help:

  • Refugee Support Network offer support services to help you overcome any challenges you may face, along with useful resources. Its 'Thinking Ahead to Higher Education Toolkit' is a good starting point for refugees and asylum seekers considering applying to university.
  • STAR is a student network, which seeks to support refugees in the UK. It offers information and resources to help you understand more about your rights.
  • Article 26 is a project by the Helena Kennedy Foundation, which helps asylum seekers go to university and offers financial support through bursaries.
  • UKCISA can help you understand more about tuition fee status in different parts of the UK, as well as other issues related to immigration and education.

Was this page helpful?

Yes  No