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Financial support for asylum seekers

As an asylum seeker, you will be classified as an international student.

Your starting fee will be that of an international student.

You may be eligible for a reduction in fees known as the Tuition Fee Reduction Scheme and six successful applicants will receive the Opportunity Award.

Tuition Fee Reduction Scheme

If you are eligible for a tuition fee reduction, your starting fee will be reduced from international to the home student rate.

To be eligible for the tuition fee reduction, you must:

  • be an asylum seeker or a child of an asylum seeker
  • meet the academic programme requirements
  • study on a full-time undergraduate course, excluding Medicine, Dentistry and NHS-funded courses
  • provide proof that an application for asylum in the UK has been made before you applied to UCAS.

The Tuition Fee Waiver Scheme is administered at the sole discretion of Cardiff University.

Assessments for eligibility are undertaken by the university’s Admissions team. You will need to complete a fee assessment questionnaire, which must be returned with evidence of the application for asylum and confirmation that the asylum claim is still undecided.

If your tuition fee reduction application is successful:

  • you will still be classified as an international student but required to pay the home student rate for your tuition fee.
  • you will not be eligible for tuition fee or maintenance loans because you will be classified as an international student under the fees regulations.

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 reduction would no longer be needed.

This would be the case for those:

  • granted refugee status, or
  • granted humanitarian protection, or
  • granted discretionary leave, or
  • whose parents, spouse or civil partner are recognised as a refugee by the UK Government, or
    • granted humanitarian protection, or
    • 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 reduction 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 regulationsf

Other institutions and funding bodies will make their own assessment and may not operate a tuition fee reduction. We would advise that you contact the relevant funding bodies directly with your details to establish your own entitlements.

Opportunity Award

Applications are now open for 2024/25

We know that asylum seekers and the children of asylum seekers are often unable to access mainstream UK student funding.

Our Opportunity Award offers six awards for our asylum seeking prospective students looking to study on eligible undergraduate or postgraduate course in 2024/25.

Each award will cover tuition fees and provides the student with two options of financial support to select from.

  1. Asylum Seekers in receipt of the allowance from the Home Office will receive a £4000 grant towards course and travel costs per year and tuition fees covered.
  2. Asylum Seekers not in receipt of the allowance from the Home Office will receive a £12,150 grant towards living, course and travel costs per year and tuition fees covered.

To be eligible for the Opportunity Award you must be:

  • a person seeking asylum in the UK or a child of a person seeking asylum in the UK
  • offered a conditional or unconditional offer to study in 2024/25 on either a undergraduate or postgraduate course which is not in Healthcare Sciences, Dentistry or Medicine

NHS courses are also not covered by the Opportunity Award but you can apply to the Schwab Westheimer Trust for support.

To apply please email Lena Smith at with your name, student ID number and the course offer you have received.

Lena will set up a case for you and will be able to support any questions you have about the application process.

Applications are now open for 2024/25.

The deadline for applications is 5 July 2024.

Students will be notified of the scholarship outcome by the end of August 2024.

Financial support from outside the university

Asylum seekers are not eligible for support through Student Finance. However, students with the following status may be eligible:

  • discretionary or indefinite leave to remain (if applying in Wales)
  • humanitarian protection (if applying in Wales)
  • refugee status

If you are granted refugee status during the course, then you can get funding support from Student Finance from the next quarter of the year.

Those students with refugee status are eligible for financial support, regardless of length of residence in the UK.

Those with humanitarian protection, discretionary and indefinite leave to remain must be ordinarily resident for three years before the start of the course to be eligible for financial support.

Please see the UKCISA website for more information on eligibility for funding from Student Finance.

Cardiff Education Trust Fund can provide financial assistance to asylum seeking students or children of asylum seekers who have attended Cardiff secondary schools for at least two years.

Awards are up to a maximum of £1,000 per student in a given academic year.

Refugee Education UK administers university scholarships for asylum seekers:

  • The Westheimer scholarship is an initiative of the Schwab and Westheimer Trust which was established by former refugees who benefited from welcome and support in the UK when fleeing Nazi Germany. This scholarship helps young asylum seekers (aged up to 28 years old) pursue higher education in health and social care, medicine, nursing or other health related professions. Up to three people a year are supported to study for a first degree or professional qualification. The scholarship pays home tuition fees and living costs up to a maximum of £11,500 per year. If you have any questions about this scholarship you can read the Frequently Asked Questions.
  • The scholarship supported by the Marks Family Charitable Trust is open to asylum seeking students embarking on a postgraduate degree programme.

Refugee Education UK also offers advice services to help you overcome any challenges you may face as well as useful resources.

Student Action for Refugees has compiled a list of higher education institutions that provide support for people still waiting for a decision on their asylum claim and for those who have been granted refugee status, discretionary leave to remain and other forms of temporary leave resulting from an asylum claim.

Prisoners of Conscience aims to transform the lives of people who have been persecuted for their acts of conscience, to protect and advance human rights around the world. It funds postgraduate and re-qualification studies to allow prisoners of conscience to recommence their work and thereby become self-sufficient and be able to add back to society.

Student Connect