Equal Access University Scholarships for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the UK

Many universities offer scholarships, bursaries, fee waivers and reduced fees to help people who have claimed asylum in the UK access higher education. Below is a list of all the universities and organisations we’ve heard about that offer this kind of support. We try to keep this list as up to date as possible, but recommend that you check with the university to confirm the details. If you hear about any others or think the information about a university is incorrect, please let us know! Just send us a message using our contact form. We also have a downloadable list of scholarships with application deadlines (updated January 2021).

Any questions about applying to university? Read our Frequently Asked Questions or submit a question through our Equal Access Enquiries Form.
Concerned about the impact of COVID19 on your studies and/or application? Read our FAQs and get in touch with us. COVID19 FAQs for refugee students.

Universities offering financial support

Eligibility definitions

  • Asylum seeker: You have submitted a claim for asylum or are actively appealing a negative decision on claim for asylum.
  • Refugee: You have been granted Refugee Status by the Home Office, in line with the Refugee Convention.
  • DLR/LLR: Discretionary/Limited Leave to Remain for any reason, including asylum.
  • DLR/LLR*: Discretionary/Limited Leave to Remain as the result of an asylum claim.
  • Humanitarian Protection: You have been granted Humanitarian Protection (HP) as the result of an asylum claim.
  • UASC Leave: You are under the age of 17.5 years and have been granted Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Child (UASC) status as the result of an asylum application.

In most cases dependants are also eligible to apply. Check the individual university for details.
Some scholarships are only open to people that do not have access to Student Finance. To check if you have access to Student Finance, consult the UKCISA website.

Terminology

  • Scholarships and bursaries usually cover fees and also some living costs, while fee waivers cover only fees. However, some universities refer to fee waivers as scholarships. To avoid confusion, we’ve used the same terminology as the university uses.
  • Undergraduate (UG) courses are higher education courses that lead to a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Some scholarships also cover Foundation programmes (before an undergraduate degree). Undergraduate degrees usually take 3 or 4 years to complete – if your course is longer (e.g. Medicine), check that it is covered by the scholarship.
  • Postgraduate (PG) courses are higher education courses that lead to a Master’s degree or PhD. Some PG scholarships only cover specific types of courses – for example, many cover Taught Master’s courses but not Research Master’s or PhD courses.

Downloadable list of scholarships with application deadlines: Scholarships – Downloadable List (Jan 2021)

Note: While some England-based universities have committed to supporting Equal Access to higher education by charging Home Fees (instead of International Fees) to people seeking asylum or with Discretionary Leave to Remain or other forms of temporary leave, universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also, according to national policies, charge Home Fees to people with Discretionary Leave to Remain and / or people seeking asylum; for more information see: http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/International-Students/Fees—finance/Home-or-Overseas-fees/

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A map of Sanctuary Scholarships across the UK, created by Freya from Bristol STAR!

Other organisations offering financial support

Scholarships

The following scholarships are offered by organisations and can be used to support study at the university of your choice.

Organisation Offering
Westheimer Scholarship
Three scholarships for asylum seekers aged 28 or under to pursue an undergraduate degree in social care, medicine, nursing or related professions. Applications are due to reopen in April 2021.
Marks Family Charitable Foundation
A scholarship for students from an asylum seeking background who are embarking on a postgraduate degree programme. The scholarship covers ‘home’ tuition fees (up to £9500 per year). Applications are due to reopen in April 2021.
The Black Heart Scholarship Programme
The Black Heart Scholarship Programme awards several annual bursaries to qualified candidates to advance their educational goals and life aspirations. The process is open to all stages of education from preparatory education to post graduate schooling and the bursaries can be applied to the costs of formal (classroom/school) education or experiential education (field/community).
The UNITE Foundation Scholarship
Free university accommodation for care leavers and estranged students aged 25 or under, holding home fee status and undertaking an undergraduate degree.


Grants

The following organisations offer grants of varying amounts to support educational costs. Make sure to check the criteria and closing dates of each bursary to see if you are eligible.

Organisation Offering
Hope for the Young
Grants of up to £4,500 for refugees, asylum-seekers, and undocumented young people who have no access to government funds, or to those who are facing extreme financial hardship. Applications close on 1 April 2021.
The Leathersellers’ Company Student Grants Scheme
Grants of up to £5,000 per year for up to 4 years for students who are enrolled on a full-time degree course at a UK university. The scheme is open to students of any nationality who can show a commitment to the UK.
Lawrence Atwell’s Charity
Grants of up to £1,500 for young people aged 16-26 living in England and Wales from low-income backgrounds, to help them gain vocational, accredited qualifications.
The Ruth Hayman Trust
Grants of up to £1,000 to support the education and training of adults who have come to settle in the UK, and whose first language is not English and cannot afford the full fees for their studies.
The Richard Stapley Educational Trust
Grants of up to £1,300 for postgraduate students aged 24 or over. Applicants should have been accepted on to or applying for a course of study for a degree in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science taken as a second degree, or for a higher degree (master’s, PhD, or their equivalent) in any subject.
Family Action Educational Grants
Grants of up to £300 for students over the age of 14 who are studying a course (including access and pre-access course) at a Further Education College affiliated to Family Action.
Trinity College London Language Access Fund
Grants (up to £250 for individuals or £2,000 for groups) to help cover the costs of Trinity’s language qualifications. Candidates must be nominated by their teacher or tutor, centre staff member or another appropriate person who is familiar with their background.
Fund for Human Need
Emergency payments of up to £120, with priority given to those who are destitute or have no income or benefits.
Refugee Survival Trust Access to Employment and Education Grants
Scotland only – Access to Employment and Education (A to EE) grants are made to refugees and asylum seekers who need a small amount of money to help them access education or employment.
The Mary Trevelyan Hardship Fund
London only – Grants or loans of up to £1,000 available to students in London who have found themselves in unexpected financial difficulties during their studies.
Sir William Boreman’s Foundation
London only – Grants of up to £3,000 to promote the education of young people under the age of 25 who live in Greenwich and Lewisham, particularly those from a low-income or otherwise disadvantaged background.
The Walcott Foundation
London only – Grants of up to £1,500 for non-childcare costs and up to £4,000 for childcare costs to help with the costs of a first degree or a vocational (work related) qualification for individuals living in Lambeth.

For further information about scholarships and bursaries available for higher education study, take a look at the following websites:

  • We Belong – Scholarships list for individuals that cannot access student finance.
  • Refugee Support Network – List of education hardship funders.
  • Prospects – Information about scholarships and bursaries for postgraduate study.
  • CoursesOnline – Information about mainstream funding options for postgraduate study.

STAR Links

  • For information on how to apply to university and other support organisations, look at our FAQS.
  • For information on The Equal Access Campaign & how to campaign at your university, click here.
  • You can also watch a webinar on accessing university as a refugee or asylum seeker in the UK here on our YouTube channel.
  • To receive regular updates on scholarship opportunities, sign up to our mailing list.

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