top of page

This information will help you understand your university options if you have Indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

I have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR): what are my options for higher education?

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.

With Indefinite leave to remain (ILR), can I go to university?

The main costs of university include tuition fees and living costs (such as accommodation, transport, food, etc.). If you have been granted ILR status and have been ‘ordinarily’ resident in the UK for 3 years you will likely pay tuition fees at 'home' rate, with a cost of up to £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 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.


However, if you have been granted ILR but have not been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years, you will pay tuition fees at an ‘international/overseas’ rate.. This costs may vary depending on university and course chosen, and some fees are significantly higher.


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 resource.

How much does it cost to go to university?

Yes. If you have ILR, you can access university. However, you will be charged tuition fees at an ‘international/overseas’ rate unless/until you have been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years before (and on) the first day of the first year of the course. After this, you would be able to access university as a ‘home’ student.


Similarly, in order to be eligible for student finance you need to have been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years before the first day of the first year of the course. Unless you are applying in Scotland where you do not need to have been ‘ordinarily resident’ for 3 years, but you must be ordinarily resident in Scotland on the first day of the first academic year of the course.


Please visit UKCISA and student finance for more information about this.


For more detailed information about access to higher education for young refugees and migrants, see the Migrant Children’s Project’s page about this topic.

How can I pay for university?

2. Self funding

Often those with a more settled status have the right to work and can self fund their university studies. You may need to use personal savings to pay for your tuition fees and may wish to consider balancing work with 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.

3. Scholarships

If you have ILR status but do not meet the three-year ‘ordinarily’ resident criteria some universities offer scholarships to people from refugee and asylum seeking 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/ 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.

1. Student finance

If you have any of the above statuses 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 visit this student finance resource for more information. There is also government funding available for postgraduate students. Please see here for more details.


If you have concerns about taking out a loan for religious reasons, please see here for advice and guidance.

bottom of page