Refugee Study

Scholarships, grants and free courses for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants

Welcome to Refugee Study

This website is an information portal for refugees and asylum seekers who want to study in the United Kingdom. It provides information about grants, scholarships, bursaries and free courses, with links to relevant funding organisations. It also provides tips to help you to obtain funding.

Could you contribute in research into higher education opportunities for young people with refugee background?

My name is Agata Lambrechts and I am a doctoral researcher at the University of York in England. My research project is evaluating higher education opportunities for young refugees and asylum-seekers in Poland and England. The aim of the project is to provide suggestions for the policy makers and to develop a tool for universities and non-governmental institutions, to help them improve access and provide suitable support for candidates and students with refugee background.

Are you?

  • aged between 18 and 24,
  • a ‘recent’ migrant in England (having arrived aged 15 or older),
  • legally residing in England at the moment (have you either submitted an application for refugee status or other type of protection OR have been granted such status)?
  • currently studying at a university OR would like to become a student?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, I would like the opportunity to talk to you about your experiences!

I would like to find out what are your educational and future career aspirations (what do you hope to achieve in your professional life), what are the issues you are facing in trying to realise your plans, whether you have been able to access information and any forms of support, and how this process is affecting you. I would also like to find out about your migration experiences and family background which may be affecting your current and future experiences.

Anything you share will be kept confidential and your responses will be recorded with a pseudonym.

You will be able to withdraw from the research (refuse to answer any or all of the questions) at any time during the face-to-face/Skype/e-mail interview.

To find out more, please contact:

By taking part in this study you could make an important contribution to research, policy and practice relating to higher education for people with refugee background.

(Please note that this study has been granted an ethical approval from the University of York)


UK university scholarships for refugees

University scholarships

There are many universities in the UK that offer scholarships for asylum seekers and/or refugees. A list of UK universities currently offering scholarships can be found in our university directory, along with information about eligibility criteria and tips to help you obtain funding. Click on the relevant box below for more information.

Scholarships directory

Find out about scholarships, grants and fee waivers for university courses.

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Eligibility criteria

Find out more about whether you are eligible to apply for funding for your studies.

Learn More

Funding tips

Find out how to increase your chances of success when applying for funding.

Learn More

Student Action for Refugees (STAR) support students to run the Equal Access Campaign, which asks universities to create scholarships for asylum seekers so that they can join us at university as equals. Get in touch with STAR if you want support in running the campaign at your university. 

The Helena Kennedy Foundation administers Article 26 awards (Sanctuary Scholarships) and these are included in the list of universities, where relevant. The main aim of Article 26 is to promote access to higher education for people who have fled persecution and sought asylum in the UK. Useful information for asylum seekers and refugees coming to University in the UK can be obtained from their Education For All: A Guide to Universities.

The Westheimer Scholarship is administered by the Refugee Support Network. This scholarship is worth £10,000 - £20,000 and enables up to three young asylum seekers each year to study for a first degree or professional qualification in the field of health and social care.

The TIKO Foundation is an educational grant giving charity. It funds young people living in the UK who are not entitled to student finance, and cannot otherwise afford the costs of higher education, at UK universities. The grant provides funding towards tuition and accommodation expenses for the duration of the course.

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) is an international scholarship programme that provides citizens of developing Commonwealth countries with funding to undertake postgraduate study at UK universities. Applicants must be a Commonwealth citizen, refugee, or British protected person and be permanently resident in a developing Commonwealth country.

Awards for refugee academics

Awards for refugee academics at UK universities

Cara (the Council for At-Risk Academics) works in partnership with UK universities to support academics at heightened risk in the most crisis affected regions of the world, offering them temporary sanctuary in the form of PhDs and Post-doctoral placements to support continued academic engagement and development pending their return to their home countries.

Grants for education, training and employment

Grants for education, training and employment for refugees

The Refugee Survival Trust is a charity that provides grants to asylum claimants and refugees living in Scotland. The grants are available to help refugees in poverty and to help people access education and employment.

The British Red Cross provides short-term emergency support and expert advice on accessing financial support for refugees who are unable to access benefits or Home Office support. This can include help with finding grants for education, training and employment.

The Schwab & Westheimer Trust offers grants to promote and encourage the education of young asylum seekers and refugees. Grants can be up to £2,000 and can be used to help pay for course equipment and materials. The Westheimer Health and Social Care Scholarship helps young asylum seekers pursue higher education in social care, medicine, nursing or related professions by offering a scholarship ranging from £10,000 - £20,000 a year.

Hope for the Young offers grants, living allowances or educational resources for those who have no access to government funds. Funds are available for people aged 16 – 25, up to first university degree level.

Family Action provides educational grants for people over the age of 14 who wish to participate in, or continue with, a programme of further education.

Free English language courses

Free English language courses for refugees

The English Language Training Services (ELTS) at Swansea University offers free English classes to refugees who have arrived in Swansea, fleeing war and persecution in their home countries. The courses offered are low-level English classes for people who may not be able to access fee-paying courses.

The Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre offers classes teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).  The ESOL programme is run by volunteers and is free of charge to all learners, including new arrivals and people who have been in Coventry for a while.

The Welsh Refugee Council provides interactive teaching sessions to asylum seekers and refugees at beginners to advanced level in Wales. This includes ESOL classes and pathways to employment and education.

Aim Higher: Access to Higher Education for Refugees and Asylum Seekers is a free online course that helps refugees and asylum seekers get the information and support they need to apply to and reach university in the UK.

The Citizen test

Citizen test help and advice

Life in the UK Tests and Life in the UK Test Web are two free websites that help you to prepare and practise answering questions for the test required for British citizenship.

Trinity College London provides information about the Secure English Language Test (SELT) that must be passed when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (to settle) or British Citizenship.

Getting help and advice

Getting help and advice for refugees

The Refugee Council is a UK charity that offers help and advice to refugees in the UK. If you live in London you can make an appointment for advice. This service is based in Stratford, East London. You can make an appointment or get more help and advice by emailing or by telephoning 020 7346 1166.

The Welsh Refugee Council provides advice and guidance for refugees living in Wales.

The Scottish Refugee Council provides advice and guidance for refugees living in Scotland.

Refugee Action is a UK charity that offers help and advice to refugees, including help with the asylum process, finding housing, poverty and homelessness. You can telephone 0207 952 1511 or email

The Refugee Support Network is a charity that helps young refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of trafficking to build more hopeful futures through education.

Asylum Aid works to secure protection for people seeking refuge in the UK from persecution and human rights abuses abroad. You can obtain help and advice by telephoning 020 7354 9264 or by emailing

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Portal for Refugees & Asylum Seekers has been set up by members of staff at the University of East London (UEL). It is a health and wellbeing portal aimed at providing refugees, asylum seekers, social care professionals and others with easy access to practical tools and resources.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) is the UK's national advisory body serving the interests of international students and those who work with them. Information and guidance is available for international students, refugees and migrants.

The Refugee Assessment and Guidance Unit (RAGU) offers support to refugees and asylum-seekers with higher level education and/or professional qualifications, helping them into education and employment.

Breaking Barriers is a charity based in East London that supports refugees to find meaningful education and employment.

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