Equal Access

Equal Access logo

STAR has been campaigning since 2008 to ensure that people in the UK seeking refugee protection have equal access to higher education and can join us at university as equals. Student activists and Student Unions are in a unique position to affect this change.

If you want to campaign for Equal Access at your university you’ll find all the information you need here. If you are in the UK seeking safety and looking to go to university you can find lots of useful information about bursaries and funding on our Access to University page

As Mala from Bristol STAR says,
“Equal Access is important because everybody deserves the right to education. Asylum seekers are often stuck in limbo for years, without the right to work or to progress their lives. When I think about what asylum seekers have to offer, and how hard they want to work at a degree, I cannot believe that this government and universities are denying people who have been persecuted, and who are now in a financially impossible situation, the right to further their education. We are asking for no more and for no less than what home students receive, we just want it to be equal.”

Equal Access partners and supporters

The Equal Access campaign is being run by STAR in partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS). It is supported by a broad coalition of agencies, including:

Coram Children’s legal centre, British Red Cross, National Union of Students, STAR, Children’s Society, Refugee Council, Helen Bamber Foundation, Refugee Support Network, CARA, Migrant Rights Network, Child Poverty Action Group, Asylum Aid, Refugee Children’s Consortium, Bail for Immigration Detainees, Refugee Education Training Advice Service, City of Sanctuary, Employability Forum, Article 26, The Unity Centre Glasgow, Zimbabwe Association, Boaz trust, Right to Remain, Dost Centre for Young Refugees & Migrants, Regional Refugee Forum:Northwest, Refugee Support network, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network, Love to Learn, Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers and The Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers

What’s the problem?

Individuals who are waiting for a decision on their asylum application or who have been granted Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR) in the UK as a result of an asylum claim do not have equal access to university.

They must pay the same fees as international students and have no access to student loans and grants. This excludes most from continuing on to higher education.
As a student network, STAR believes that this is wrong and that colleges and universities should have fair admissions policies for all.

  • How can you expect someone who cannot work and who lives on £36 a week to pay £8,500 to £29,200 a year in university fees?
  • How can you claim that someone who has fled their country of origin to avoid war, torture and persecution is the same as an international student who has chosen to study in Britain?
  • What is the future going to look like if people seeking protection cannot learn the skills they need to build a future?

What’s the solution?

NUS and STAR are campaigning together to open colleges and universities to those seeking refugee protection in the UK. We want universities to:

  • Classify all those seeking asylum as home students for fee purposes
  • Offer at least 10 scholarships that cover study and maintenance costs for people who have come to the UK seeking refugee protection
  • Publicise their Equal Access policies so that potential students can easily apply

A number of universities have already adopted Equal Access including York, KCL, LSE, Queen Mary’s and many more.

Take Action

Campaign for Equal Access at your university

Download the Equal Access campaign guide now to find out how to campaign for Equal Access at your university. You can download the full guide, or just the sections relevant to your STAR group.


Equal Access Campaign Toolkit

Further resources:

Sign up as a supporter of the campaign

If you are a member of an organisation, university department of student society, why not join organisations like CORAM and Refugee Support Network and ask your group to pledge its support for the Equal Access campaign? It’s simple. Just download the Pledge and send it back to the friendly team at STAR.

Take Action in support students with discretionary leave to remain

Young people who arrive in the UK to seek protection as children, grow up here and are granted discretionary leave to remain (DLR) have previously been able to attend university as home students alongside their British born classmates. In February 2011 this suddenly stopped. They are now expected to pay overseas fees and cannot access student loans to do so.

STAR is calling on the government to reverse these changes and restore the life chances of these young people.

Get together with friends, SU societies, volunteering partners and professors and write to the Minister of State for Universities and Science, asking him to take immediate action to reverse these changes. Here’s a template letter to help you on your way!


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