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Support for asylum seekers

Students from the STAR society at the Refugee Rhythm event
Students from the STAR society at the Refugee Rhythm event. Photo credit, Noah

We offer a variety of support for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and other people seeking Sanctuary in the UK.

We welcome people seeking safety and want to create a feeling of inclusion by encouraging the acceptance of culture, skills and differences.

We are in the process of pursing the University of Sanctuary status, an initiative that recognises the good practice of universities in welcoming, supporting and empowering people seeking sanctuary. It is our aim to attract and recruit students with academic potential, regardless of background or personal experience.

Is this support for you?

There are a number of different official status options. The following list offers a simple overview and you can find further details on the UK Visas and Immigration Website.

  • Asylum Seeker: you are applying for asylum, or you are waiting for a decision by the UK government
  • Refugee: you have been given permission to stay in the UK and granted official ‘refugee’ status. You have a letter from the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) to confirm this
  • Humanitarian Protection: you have permission to stay in the UK for humanitarian reasons. You have a letter from the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) to confirm this
  • Limited Leave to Remain (LLR) or discretionary leave to remain (DLR): you have been given permission to stay temporarily in the UK. You have a letter from the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) to confirm this.

Applying for a course

Find out how to apply for an undergraduate course or how to apply for a postgraduate course. Attending an Open Day will give you the opportunity to talk to students and staff, view our facilities and find out what it's like to be a student with us.

When you apply to study with us you will have an opportunity to disclose you are an asylum seeker or refugee. We would encourage you to do this so we can contact you as early as possible about the support available to you.

If you are not yet ready for university level study have a look at the support available from the Widening Participation team. Contact them at or call them on 02920 870020.

The Continuing and Professional Development team also other standalone level 4 and level 5 courses as well as Pathways to a Degree. Contact them at or call them on 02920 870000.


As an asylum seeker you will be classified as an international student and your starting tuition fee will be that of an international student. You may be eligible for a reduction in fees known as the Tuition Fee Wavier and every year 2 successful applicants will receive the Opportunity Award. Further information can be found on our Financial Support for Asylum Seekers page.

As a refugee living in the UK you will be classed as a home student and may be eligible for funding from Student Finance depending on your residency status. Student Finance England and Student Finance Wales list the residency criteria and who it applies to on their webpages. Further information about what funding is available to home students can be found on our funding webpages.

Transitions Support

It is important to us that your transition to university is made easier by you being able to have information and guidance in regards to any questions you have before you start and after.

Our Outreach Team offer information, advice and guidance to help you prepare for University. Explore their get involved pages to see what projects you can get involved with.

If you have ticked the box at UCAS our dedicated contact will be in touch to answer any questions you may have before starting the course and can signpost you to services at the University you may need.

Support while you are studying

We aim to foster an excellent and supportive student experience. This includes to nurture and encourage confident and successful futures for all.

Lena Smith is the dedicated contact for Asylum Seekers and Refugees and offers the following support throughout your studies:

  • support with applying for student funding and alternative grants and bursaries
  • support with academic-related issues, including liaising with your academic department and making students aware of how to apply for extenuating circumstances if needed
  • assist with any housing issues.
  • sign posting towards other university teams such as supporting disabled students, advice on health and wellbeing or developing academic study skills
  • hosting events and activities and being available to talk to if needed.

You can contact Lena through student connect by emailing

Other dedicated support

We also offer other dedicated support and information on top of general student life support on offer to all students.

Kathryn Lock is the dedicated contact for students with an asylum-seeking status who would like to know more about accessing counselling and wellbeing support here. Kathryn acts as a first point of contact for any students who have questions about accessing support with their mental health and wellbeing.

These are some of things we can help with:

  • talking you through the support that is available within counselling, health and wellbeing service
  • guiding you through accessing support resources online
  • helping you to complete your application for counselling and wellbeing if needed
  • signposting you to external support agencies where available
  • access to specialised trauma counselling.

You can find more information about Health and Wellbeing services on our dedicated webpages.

You can contact Kathryn through student connect by emailing

Student Action for Refugees are a student society committed to welcoming refugees and standing up for human rights. Cardiff STAR is involved in campaigning, fundraising, and volunteering. One of their campaigns is to achieve University of Sanctuary status, an initiative to embed a culture of welcome to those seeking asylum at Cardiff University.

Refugee and Asylum Seeker voices are essential in this process. Get in touch with STAR if you would be interested in working with them on this project. You can join the Cardiff STAR Facebook group or join the Cardiff STAR Student Volunteering group on Facebook.

We advise that if there are any changes to your status while you are studying to let us know asap.

If your asylum application is granted

If your asylum application is granted during your course of study at the University, your fee status will change to home student with effect from the following academic year. Your Tuition Fee Waiver would no longer be needed.

This would be the case for those:

  • granted refugee status
  • granted humanitarian protection
  • granted discretionary leave
  • whose parents, spouse or civil partner are recognised as a refugee by the UK Government
  • granted humanitarian protection
  • granted discretionary leave and who meet the ‘family condition’ on the date of the family member’s asylum application.

Funding is available from Student Finance if you receive a positive asylum application outcome- see below for more information.

If your asylum application is refused

If your asylum application is refused during your course of study at the university:

  • your fee status will remain as international student
  • the Tuition Fee Waiver will stop with effect from the following academic year and payment of the full international student fee rates will be required
  • the time limit on any Visa or Leave to Remain will be monitored and applied in line with Home Office regulations.

To ensure you have the best experience at graduation we offer a package for asylum seekers who have received support from us. Our current package includes covering the cost of the graduation gown hire.

After graduation can apply for campus halls for the summer until 1 September to ensure you have enough time to plan your next steps.

Our Student Futures Team can provide support up to 3 years after graduation supporting your next steps after University.

A relationship with us is for life and you can stay connected with the university and be part of our global community of Alumni.

Get in touch

Student Connect