Equal Access Campaign and Scholarships

Equal Access logo

STAR, in partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS), has run its Equal Access Campaign since 2008. Along with several other organisations it provides support and campaigns for the provision of scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers denied access to higher education in the UK. People who have sought refuge in the UK do not have equal access to university; most are classed as international students which mean they are charged higher fees. On top of this most cannot get a student loan and do not have the right to work to earn money to pay their fees and living costs.

In 2017 the UK received 26,000 asylum applications, a tiny fraction of the UK population at 1 asylum application per 2300 people in the UK. In the year ending June 2018 a total of 14300 people were granted asylum, protection or resettlement (1 for every 4500 people in the UK). Other countries such as Lebanon and Turkey are hosting millions of refugees displaced by ongoing conflicts. Yet despite these low numbers and our often-stated “proud tradition of welcoming refugees”, Britain is not providing the welcome and educational support these survivors need to rebuild their lives.

STAR’s Equal Access Campaign aims to create scholarship pathways to provide higher education to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. We provide answers to FAQs for applicants on our website, along with a regularly updated list of scholarships currently offered in the UK for refugees and asylum seekers. STAR itself does not administer any funding through scholarships but is a support group which signposts this information on our website.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘Higher Education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit’. But the current UK system does not give equal access to asylum seekers, who have to wait unable to work or learn until their status is confirmed. This can take a long time as decisions are often refused and then appealed after a lengthy legal process. The table below broadly explains the situation some refugees and asylum seekers face in accessing higher education across UK regions.

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For information on access to higher education in the Republic of Ireland, information can be found on Irish Refugee Council website and in this short guide issued by the IRC: IRC_access_to_further_education_in_Ireland.pdf