Refugees and asylum seekers applying for postgraduate study in the UK

The UCAS Postgraduate application includes two questions about refugee and asylum seeker status. This page provides information to help you answer the questions.
You may also include information in the personal statement section of the application – but will not be not expected to. We recommend you contact the universities before you apply, to discuss your circumstances. They may be able to give you more advice.

Questions on the application

1. Do you have official refugee status in the UK, or are you an asylum seeker?

You can tell your chosen universities and colleges if you are a refugee or asylum seeker. This is an optional question. Select one of the following answers:

  • No
  • I’m a refugee or have been awarded Humanitarian Protection
  • I’m an asylum seeker or have limited or discretionary leave to remain

If you’re not sure which status you hold: In the UK, a refugee or asylum seeker is a person who has fled their country of origin, and is seeking protection in the UK because of a fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, if they return to their country of origin.

  • 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.

2. Residential status/category

This question is at the end of the Residency and nationality section of the application. It includes options to select ‘Refugee’ or ‘Humanitarian protection or similar’ as your residential status. 

This question is asked to help identify the tuition fees you will be charged for the course you’re applying for, to confirm if you’e eligible to take the course, and give help you if you require a visa.

  • Select refugee – if you have been given permission to stay in the UK and granted official refugee status, and you have a letter from the UK Border Agency to confirm this.
  • Select humanitarian protection – if you have permission to stay in the UK for humanitarian reasons, and you have a letter from the UK Border Agency to confirm this.

If you don’t think the descriptions in either of the above questions apply to you, visit the UKCISA website for more details. You can also contact universities and colleges before you apply, to discuss your circumstances. They may be able to give you more advice.


Your personal statement

You may choose to talk about your background and experience as a refugee or asylum seeker in your personal statement. This is not a requirement, it’s your choice. 

Why it’s useful for universities to know about your refugee or asylum seeker status

  • To understand the context of your application – knowing about your circumstances means admissions staff can consider your achievements and potential in context.
  • To establish your fee status – universities charge different tuition fees for different categories of students. These are known as ‘home status’ and ‘overseas status’ rates.  Your nationality, residency, and refugee or humanitarian protection status will affect your fee status. You can read more about this on the UKCISA website. It’s important to inform the universities you apply to of any changes in your circumstances, to ensure their information is up-to-date. 
  • To ensure you receive the right support to start university, and succeed with your studies – many universities provide additional support for students who are refugees or asylum seekers. This can include extra financial help, support with your studies, or help with managing your health and well-being. They can help you access any support you need. 

How your information is used 

When you submit your application, your information will be sent to the university. It will only be shared with relevant authorised staff, such as the admissions staff, and the student support team.  

All information provided will be treated in confidence. Your personal information is protected under data protection legislation. You can read more in UCAS’ privacy policy