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 ‘overseas’ students. High fees, coupled with their exclusion from student loans, puts university out of reach for many bright and motivated students.

One of the ways in which our higher education team supports these students to move forward in their education is our partnership with the Schwab & Westheimer Trust. We support the Trust to administer and promote their scholarships, ensuring that the seven current scholars and all the other applicants get the help they need to move forward in their education. Here’s the difference this makes:


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 university, studying 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.”

Click here to sign up to alerts about the Westheimer and associated scholarships.

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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