Am I Eligible to Study in the UK?
Many people who have fled their home country and are waiting for a response on their asylum application are keen to continue their lives and their education.
Asylum seekers and refugees are able to study while waiting to hear a decision from the UK government on their asylum claim; however, access and cost depend on your age and the level of education you wish to receive.
Children Under 16 Years Old
If you are trying to place your children in school in the UK, children under 16 who are asylum seekers or have refugee status are entitled to access the UK National Curriculum at any local school and receive education specific to their age and education level.
Young asylum seekers are accepted into schools the same way local children are and have to go through the same admissions procedures. However, because of the unique circumstances surrounding young refugees and asylum seekers, the school may put special measures in place during the admissions meeting. These could include:
- Organising a translator to help during the admissions meeting
- Assigning a teacher to the child who will attend the admissions meeting
- Offering a free ear, eye and hearing examination for the child
- Requesting evidence of the child’s date of birth
- Sharing details of local non-profit or government institutions that can support asylum seekers and refugees
Asylum Seekers Over 16 Years Old
If you are over 16 years old, you will be able to study at further or higher education level as long as you don’t have “no study” immigration bail conditions. You can study both at college and university levels, but these options are not free except for certain courses at college or unless you have a university scholarship.
You will be able to study any of the courses available at your chosen college or university.
The most commonly available schools are state-funded schools, known as ‘state schools’, which are free to attend. Private schools are independent and are not free to attend; the cost of these schools is dependent on the school and their fees will be available on their website or on request.
You can apply to study any courses you wish at university. But in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you will have to pay your tuition fees at the ‘international/overseas’ rate and this cost may vary depending on the course and university you are applying for.
Although you will not be able to access student finance, there are some other funding options you can explore to cover your tuition fees, such as:
- UK university scholarships: Some universities offer scholarships for students who can’t apply for student finance due to their immigration status. The scholarships have different names but are sometimes called Sanctuary Scholarships, Equal Access or Article 26 awards and usually pay your tuition fees and support some of your living costs. Further information on scholarships for asylum seekers can be found on the Student Action for Refugees (STAR) website.
- Private scholarships: If you don’t have other funding options, there are some private scholarships that offer financial assistance that you can apply for, for example, Grenfell, Westheimer, Brittan, Marks Family, and Charitable Foundation scholarships.
Tuition fees are slightly different in Scotland;, further information on the fee regulations in Scotland is available on the UKCISA website.
Further Education and Sixth Form College
You may have to pay for the course you want to study at college; the cost will be listed on the course website of the college you want to apply to.
English and maths courses, at GCSE or Functional Skills levels, are free for any age as long as you haven’t previously achieved at least a grade 4 (or grade C) in the subject.
If you can’t pay for the tuition fee, there are other options available for you:
- Government funding: Different funding options are available depending on your age and the level you want to study.
- Bursaries: Further education and sixth form colleges often have financial support for lower-income students that you can apply for. You can also ask the student services at your college if there are any bursaries you can apply for; they may even reduce your fees or offer a tuition fee waiver if you ask if this is possible.
- Scholarships and educational grants: Some charities offer support to asylum seekers and refugees who aren’t able to pay for the course they wish to study. Different charities offer different grants with different criteria so you may have to look around to see if any suit your needs.
- LAC or care leave support: If you are currently or were previously in care, you may be eligible to have a tuition fee waiver. You can apply for a 16-19 bursary worth up to £1,200 per year to help with your course.
As an asylum seeker or refugee, a widening participation coordinator or hardship funds coordinator at the college is available for you to speak to about financial support or bursaries.
Children under 16 years old are admitted to local schools in the same way as local children; by applying either directly or through your local council.
First, you must identify which local or private school you would like to send your child to and consider the eligibility criteria for the schools you’re interested in. Then, you will either apply for your child to attend school through your local council (for state schools) or directly to the school (for private education).
Typically, the school year runs from September to July each year; however, you can contact the council or school if you wish your child to start partway through the school year.
When applying for college courses, you will apply directly through the college website. Different colleges teach different courses, so first you will need to identify which college teaches the course you would like to study. Colleges can fill up quickly on their popular courses so it is best to apply early before they close applications for that year.
The websites will outline the dates, any eligibility criteria, and what qualifications are needed for the course.
Main courses in further education and sixth form college run from September to July but there are also opportunities to study at this level at evening school or part-time at some colleges.
For a full time undergraduate course, the university application process is managed through a website called UCAS. Here you will be able to browse courses, their locations, their requirements, and apply to up to five universities a year.
The application process for UK university takes up to a year. A university year runs from September to June and undergraduate students apply from September the year before the course begins.
For postgraduate degree courses, you can apply through the UCAS website for many universities or directly to the university’s website for others. There isn’t always a deadline for a postgraduate degree but it is best to apply early and give yourself plenty of time to apply for university scholarships.
Waiting for a decision on your asylum claim can be an extremely stressful time and many people’s education has been disrupted when they fled their home country. Going back to school or higher education is a good way of continuing your learning while you are going through the asylum process.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers are specialist immigration lawyers who will be able to support you in exploring the education options for yourself and your family, as well as any other step in your asylum journey.
What Services Do We Offer?
We are able to support you with a range of immigration services, whether you are looking for advice on any step of your immigration application or require a lawyer to represent you while applying for immigration. During your asylum application process, we are able to help you with services including:
- Asylum Application
- Asylum Appeal
- Detained Casework
- Bail (SoS application)
- Bail (Tribunal)
- Bail Renewal
- Fresh Asylum Claims
- Permission to Work Application
- Travel Document
- BRP Issues (lost/stolen/error)
- Family Reunion Application (per applicant)
- Family Reunion Appeal (including dependents)
- Application for Permission to Appeal (FTT & UT)
- Error of Law Preparation and Hearing
Last modified on October 23rd, 2023 at 6:26 am
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Some refugees and asylum seekers travel to the UK on a student visa and then apply for asylum once they have arrived in the UK. Other people who are already in the UK studying will become eligible for asylum. It is best to apply for asylum as soon as possible as delays may impact whether you are granted refugee status.
The asylum process can be very long. Asylum seekers can wait over a year to receive a decision from the UK Home Office.
Unless you have been granted specific permission to work, you will not be able to have a job or volunteer while applying for asylum.
Each course will have specific eligibility criteria that you will have to meet in order to study on that course. All children under 16 years old who are asylum seekers have equal access to study at state school but their level will be determined during the admissions meeting.
Asylum seeking students can study part-time courses at college, undergraduate- or postgraduate-degree level. You will have to see if the college or university you are applying for runs part-time courses.
Yes, you can still study if your asylum case has been refused as long as you don’t have a “no study” bail condition.
No, you can’t study at further education or sixth form college as an ARE asylum seeker. However, there are some circumstances where you are allowed to study; for example, you have appealed a decision and no decision has been made in six months, have been granted support under NASS section 4, or are in care or a care leaver.