As an asylum seeker can I go to university?
Yes. The important thing to remember is that as an asylum seeker you are allowed to go to university (unless you have 'no study' immigration bail conditions - please see here for more details). However, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland you will be charged tuition fees at an ‘international/overseas’ rate and won’t be eligible for student finance (the loans from the government that other students can apply for). In Scotland, this is slightly different - check out the guidelines on fee regulations at UKCISA for more information.
For more detailed information about access to higher education for young refugees and migrants, see the Migrant Children’s Project’s page about this topic.
If you are an asylum seeker and you have already applied to university and received offers, please see here for further information.
How can I pay for university?
As an asylum seeker you can’t access student finance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, so you have to arrange another way to pay for university.
1. University scholarships
Many universities offer scholarships for those who can’t access student finance on account of their immigration status. All of these have different names but these are sometimes called Sanctuary Scholarships, Equal Access, or Article 26 awards. These usually pay your tuition fees and often also provide extra funding for your living costs.
For an up to date list of which universities offer scholarships, please visit Student Action for Refugees (STAR)’s website. Although many of these are for undergraduate degrees, some are for postgraduate studies.
If you are an asylum seeker, we would strongly advise you to only apply to universities that are on this list.
2. Private scholarships
There are a small number of private scholarships available for those who cannot get other funding for their studies. These include the Grenfell scholarship, and the Westheimer, Brittan, Marks Family Charitable Foundation scholarships.
How much does it cost to go to university?
The main costs of university include tuition fees and living costs (such as accommodation, transport, food, etc.). As an asylum seeker you will pay tuition fees at an ‘international/overseas’ rate. This cost may vary depending on the university and course chosen. Living costs vary similarly each year, depending on where you study, whether you need to pay for accommodation, and other factors.
On average you may need to budget for £1,000 per month (minimum) to cover your living costs. For more help with working out your budget, please visit this resource.