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Higher education funding opportunities for asylum seekers

1 December 2016

Education enables refugees to build more hopeful and secure futures for themselves and their communities, yet just 1% of refugee youth around the world make it to university.

Young people seeking asylum face particular barriers when trying to enter higher education in the UK, primarily their ineligibility for student finance and their categorisation as ‘oversees’ students. High fees, coupled with their exclusion from student loans, puts university out of reach for many bright and motivated students. 

The Westheimer Health and Social Care Scholarship

The Westheimer Health and Social Care Scholarship creates opportunities for these young people who currently have limited options to pursue higher education. Ranging from an annual grant of £10-20k, this scholarship enables up to three young asylum seekers each year to study for a first degree or professional qualification in the field of health and social care. 

The Westheimer Scholarship is an initiative of the Schwab Westheimer Trust which was established by former refugees who benefited from welcome and support in the UK when fleeing Nazi Germany. RSN is working with the Schwab Westheimer Trust to administer the Westheimer Scholarship. 

Scholarship applications for the academic year 2018/19 will open in spring 2018.

Here is the impact that the scholarship has already had:

Mariam arrived in the UK at the age of 17 from Pakistan as an asylum seeker. Being granted a scholarship to study an MPharm Pharmacy has allowed Mariam to pursue her dream. She shares her what this scholarship means to her:

“It offers me one and the only thing that I have been genuinely wanting in my whole life. Now that I think about my education, it has been the only thing I have planned since my childhood. It's that one thing that would be my choice, which would characterise my personality and will help me make a better choice for me and my family. I am the first girl in my family who has this chance to explore this tremendous experience of going to university. I had planned and dreamed about every step of my education and this scholarship has brought that dream to me. If I would drop my studies from my life I don’t think there is anything left in my life to do. The most beautiful thing about education/learning is that no one takes that away from you.”

Darya is another scholar who has been awarded a grant and is currently in her second year of Pharmacy. She initially came to the UK from Afghanistan at the age of 16. Without being awarded the scholarship Darya said that continuing her education would have been a great struggle and she, like many others, was facing a very challenging time when she found out she was not eligible for student finance:

“The Westheimer scholarship is a golden opportunity for me. I feel blessed to be awarded this amazing scholarship. Before finding out about Westheimer award, I struggled a lot to carry on my education... I cannot describe my feelings in words on how pleased I am with this scholarship. It has given me what I had dreamt about. I am only 3 years away on fulfilling my dream. Nothing was possible if I wasn't a Westheimer scholar and this is all because of the kind trustees. To me and my family this scholarship is a miracle.”

The Brittan Scholarship

"Leon believed that education leading to continued intellectual curiosity opened up not only an individual's future but the potential of whole communities and nations" – Diana Brittan

The Brittan scholarship is open to students at either Masters or Undergraduate level who have no more than two years further to study. This scholarship is in memory of Lord Leon Brittan who was himself the child of an immigrant and an asylum-seeking family, and who had huge sympathy for people seeking an education.

The scholarship is available for students of the following subjects:

  • International Law
  • International Aid
  • International Business

The amount awarded will be tuition fees (at home rates between £9,000 - £12,000 per year) and a small maintenance grant (maximum £5,000 per year) and it will last for up to two years

Applicants who have an asylum-seeking background are encouraged to apply. 

Please note: RSN is publicising not administering this scholarship. All enquiries should be directed to [email protected]

For further advice about university funding 

For further advice about applying to university as an asylum seeker or refugee, please get in touch with our higher education team

Categories: Higher education, Opportunities for young people
Refugee Support Network is a charity registered in England & Wales under charity number 1132509 and company number 06879651 at 1st Floor, The Salvation Army Building, London NW10 4JJ. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website. To learn more, read our privacy policy.
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