Globally, just 3% of refugees get to university.
Attending university is often listed as a primary aim of displaced students. It contributes to rebuilding the lives of individual refugees, is a tool of reconstruction in countries of origin and can enable refugees to contribute more to their host communities.
However, young refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of trafficking face a range of barriers when trying to progress to university, from varying eligibility for student finance and ‘home’ fee status to challenges validating previous qualifications. This means that those with the academic potential to go to university, are often unable to move forward. Read our report,"I Just Want To Study", to understand the issues further.
Here's how RSN's HE team can help you:
Answers to frequently asked questions
Many young asylum seekers and refugees ask us the same initial questions about accessing university, so we've come up with the answers to the most frequently asked questions. Please check these FAQs before contacting our helpline.
Higher education advice service
Our national advice service is a great starting point for your questions about getting into higher education as a young refugee, asylum seeker or survivor of human trafficking. If you are a young person (aged 16-24), a parent, teacher, advisor, university staff member, social worker, or are dealing with this issue in any other way, please get in touch with us for personalised advice and signposting. Please do check to see if your question has already been answered in our FAQs.
You can contact our advice service in the following ways:
- By email - firstname.lastname@example.org
- By chatting with us on WhatsApp - please open this link using your smart phone's internet browser
If you have a more general question or fall outside the remit of our advice line (ie if you are over 25 or not in the UK) please check our FAQs first to see if your question is answered there.
Face to face support
We are not currently able to offer face-to-face advice and guidance to young asylum seekers and refugees. Please contact our helpline instead.
‘Thinking Ahead to Higher Education’ toolkit
With useful information about how to apply for university, eligibility for support, alternative funding sources and scholarships, and different education options.
Training for practitioners
RSN’s access to higher education training for university staff, student ambassadors, social workers, teachers and career advisors.
We work in partnership with the Schwab Westheimer Trust which provides university scholarships for young asylum seekers.
“I came to this country when I was 13, but there were complications with my case, and I had to wait seven years to get a decision from the Home Office. Getting to university was a big challenge for me because they wanted to charge me international student fees. How would you feel if you had to sit at home and wait while your friends go to uni and get jobs? It’s really important to have people who can help you with this.” (21 year old girl from Somalia)
Want to find out more about higher education for refugees and asylum seekers?
Here are some links you may find interesting:
- RSN and Jigsaw Consult's research into higher education for refugees in low resources environments
- A list of universities offering scholarships for asylum-seeking students
- Guidance and support for universities interested in setting up scholarships for asylum-seeking students
- A story from Birkbeck University about their new project for asylum seekers
- Universities UK's new guide for universitiesUniversities UK's new guide for universities about how to increase access for displaced people
- World University Service of Canada (WUSC)'s paper which sets out issues in the provision of blended higher education for refugees and provide some insights into trends and what practitioners in this space should tackle next
- Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director of Fair Access and Participation, a new report to which RSN contributed, calling on greater support for young asylum seekers wanting to access university