If you have refugee status, this information will help you understand your university options
I have refugee status: what are my options for higher education?
As a person with refugee status, can I go to university?
Yes. If you have refugee status in the UK, you can study at university. You will be classed by universities as a ‘home’ student and you will pay 'home' tuition fees. You will also usually be able to get student finance (the loans from the UK government that help you pay for your university tuition fees and living costs).
If your five-year refugee leave is expiring soon and you are hoping to go to university, please contact us to discuss your options.
The main costs of university are the tuition fees and your living costs (such as accommodation, transport, food, etc). If you have refugee status you will probably pay tuition fees at a 'home' rate (the same as other UK students). Currently, home fees are around £9,250 per academic year. This cost may vary depending on the university and course chosen as some fees are slightly lower. Living costs may also vary depending on where you study, whether you need to pay for accommodation and other factors.
On average, you may need to budget for £1,000 per month (minimum) to cover your living costs. For more help with working out your budget, please visit this student budget calculator. It will help you work out how much it may cost you to live at different universities.
How much does it cost to go to university?
How can I pay for university?
1. Student finance
If you have refugee status you will usually be able to apply for government student finance to help you pay for your university tuition fees and living cost. Remember this is a loan and has to be repaid once you start earning a salary of £25,000 per year. For undergraduates, there are two main loans you can apply for:
Tuition fee loan: This is a non-means tested loan and is paid directly to the university to cover your fee cost.
Maintenance loan: This is a means tested loan and is to help cover your living costs, e.g rent, food, transport etc. The amount you receive varies depending on where you live and whether you live with family. There is also student finance available for postgraduate students. Please see here for more details.
If you have any worries about taking out a student finance loan for religious reasons, please see here for advice and guidance.
(Please note: you may not be eligible for student finance if you have already completed an equivalent degree before.)
2. Self funding
Some refugees who have permission to work in the UK choose to pay for their university studies themselves (self funding). You may need to use personal savings to pay for your tuition fees and may wish to work part time whilst studying. Many degrees can be undertaken part time or on a flexible basis, such as via distance learning. Please visit this UCAS guide for more information.
Some universities offer scholarships to those from refugee backgrounds. Please visit Student Action for Refugees (STAR)’s website for a more comprehensive list.
You may also wish to visit the funding pages of different universities to find out more about what they can offer.
4. Care leaver support
If you are or have been a care leaver you may be eligible to receive a grant of up to £2,000 from your local authority towards your university studies. Your university may also have specific funding available for you. Please visit here for more information.
Other FAQs for students with refugee status
Here's more information
Click here to return to our main Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for more information about higher education
Contact us for advice and guidance
Click here to find out how REUK's Educational Progression team can help you reach university through advice, guidance, workshops and funding opportunities
Training for practitioners
Join our training to understand the barriers to university for refugee and asylum-seeking students and to get the skills and confidence you need to move forward