Support for refugees and asylum seekers

Information about local support for refugees and asylum seekers and useful links.

Who is a refugee and asylum seeker?

The 1951 Refugee Convention is a key legal document and defines a refugee as:

‘someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.’ (UNHCR)

An asylum-seeker is someone whose request for sanctuary (refugee status) has yet to be processed. (UNHCR)


Support for both groups of students is not always clear but UCAS has a helpful ‘toolkit’ page for anyone trying to provide support which can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Applying to college or university

Information for those supporting potential applicants:

Support for refugees and asylum seekers is tricky to understand when it comes to studying in the UK. Both UCAS and Refugee Education UK (REUK) have information to help which can be accessed via these links:


Information for potential applicants:

If you are a potential college or university applicant the organisation Refugee Education UK has a section on their website which allows applicants to ask questions and also has a section of FAQs. You can access this via this link:


‘If you are not a UK national and you do not have indefinite immigration status but have lived in England & Wales for a substantial period of your life, you may be eligible for student finance and home fees in England & Wales under the ‘long residence’ category.’ We Belong is a migrant youth-led organisation, campaigning for the rights of young migrants, developing young leaders by providing advice, support and training. There website helps to clarify the eligibility for home fees and student finance.

Course providers are able to explain exactly what support their institution offers but UCAS has a good overview on their page here.

Financial support available for refugee and asylum seeker students offered by some local higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs):

Support offered Oxford Brookes University University of Oxford Buckinghamshire New University University of Reading New College Swindon
Refugee scholarship ✔️
Asylum seeker scholarship ✔️
Sanctuary Scholarship ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Bursary for Vulnerable Groups – free meals ✔️
HEI/FEC support page links Oxford Brookes University University of Oxford Buckinghamshire New University University of Reading New College Swindon

Table correct as of 15 August 2022


What are apprenticeships?

In the UK, refugees (those granted settled refugee status) have open access to the job market and so can legally take part in any apprenticeship. However, the rules are a little different for people seeking asylum (who have not had their claim accepted). Sona Circle has more information about this on their webpage here.

The charity Refugee Education UK gives a description of an aprenticeship here and also explains other types of education in the UK.

Additional information

Local support

If you are a refugee or asylum seeker and are looking for support in your local area, take a look at these organisations in our regions (hover over each organisation and click on the link):


Asylum Welcome Project 17 Reading Refugee Support Group  

The Harbour Project



Refugee Resource


Wycombe Refugee Partnership Slough Refugee Support Swindon City of Sanctuary

Oxford City of Sanctuary



Not from the UK: Education

While you are not prevented from study in the UK, your immigration status may have an impact on what education you can access and what funding you can get to study. This article from Legal Stuff may help.

Please click on the link below:

Displaced Student Opportunities UK

This is a website, jointly hosted by three organisations: Refugee Education UK, Student Action for Refugees and Universities of Sanctuary,  which hosts a ‘comprehensive source of information about accessing higher education for people who are displaced in the UK. Universities, charities, and other organisations add information about opportunities that they offer, which are then checked by a moderator.’

You can access the website by clicking on the link below:

Webinar Recording

Study Higher hosted a webinar about support for refugees and asylum seekers in higher education.  We were joined by Student Action for Refugees (STAR) and Equal Access activists who highlighted support available for those exploring next steps in education. and, although the webinar was recorded a while ago, we hope you find the information helpful.

Refugee Week

Every year, around World Refugee Day on the 20 June, there is a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. It all began in 1998 and this is the organisation’s bespoke webpage: Refugee Week  

There are events to get involved in and resources to download. You can also register for their newsletter to keep updated with the latest news.

For schools, children and young people a pack can be downloaded below (current as of June 2022).


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