Getting to University: support

Did you apply for university when you were 18 or 19, or go back to study as an adult? You may remember the application process as challenging: trying to find out what might work best for you from many options, work out what you could afford, perhaps, and convince your chosen institution that they wanted to give you a place.

If you want to go to university in the UK and are from a refugee background, there may be a number of additional barriers.  In common with other students from a less affluent background, some of this will be in the form of resources (the chance to travel to visit different institutions before applying, for example) Some of the members of AfR have supported applicants, and report that they may also face hidden costs, such as taking English language tests. In some cases students from a refugee background have been asked to pay international rate fees.

Some organisations have recognised these barriers and offer support. The Helena Kennedy Foundation’s website includes a list of all the universities offering bursaries (funding) for students from a refugee background. This list includes Edge Hill, who offer a fee waiver and small bursary for asylum seekers: Edge Hill’s scholarship scheme.

As Richard Black (SOAS) points out in this post, university students have played a key role in getting these scholarships set up. The Student Action for Refugees network (STAR) brings together student groups across the country, including on HE access. You can sign up to keep updated on the latest scholarship news on their HE campaign page.

Advice is also available from the Refugee Support Network. They offer training for HE institutions as well as a mentorship programme. This is not yet available in the North West, but hopefully this scheme will expand in the future.

If you have experience of this issue, AfR would be keen to hear about your views: please get in touch.