Support for asylum seekers
We offer a variety of support for students who are asylum seekers.
As an asylum seeker, you will be classified as an international student and your starting fee will be that of an international student.
You may be eligible for a reduction in fees known as the Tuition Fee Waiver and every year, two successful applicants will receive the Opportunity Award. There is also funding support available from outside the University.
Not yet ready for university? We offer courses and support if you are not yet ready for university-level study
Find out about funding for postgraduate study
Tuition fee waiver
To be eligible for the tuition fee waiver, 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 Waiver 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.
Receiving a Home Office decision during your course
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, 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 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.
Other institutions and funding bodies
Other institutions and funding bodies will make their own assessment and may not operate a Tuition Fee Waiver. We would advise that you contact the relevant funding bodies directly with your details to establish your own entitlements.
We know that asylum seekers and the children of asylum seekers are often unable to access mainstream UK student funding.
Our Opportunity Award covers the cost of tuition fees and provides a non-repayable grant of £4,000 per year to support living costs. Each year the award is given to two undergraduate students holding an unconditional or conditional offer to study at Cardiff University. We accept applications from those who are either asylum seekers or children of asylum seekers.
Please note that students studying Healthcare Sciences, Dentistry or Medicine are not eligible for this award. NHS courses are also not covered by the Opportunity Award but you can apply to the Schwab Westheimer Trust for support.
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
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 Support Network
Refugee Support Network 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.
You can contact the Refugee Support Network Higher Education Team for further information about both scholarships.
Refugee Support Network also offers support services to help you overcome any challenges you may face as well as useful resources.
Student Action for Refugees (STAR Network)
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
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.
Postgraduate funding support
The Tuition Fee waiver and the Opportunity Award, are both only available to undergraduate students. There is a scholarship supported by the Marks Family Charitable Trust which is open to asylum seekers embarking on a postgraduate degree programme. You must be able to demonstrate how your chosen degree will make a valuable contribution to society. Only exceptional candidates with proven academic excellence will be considered. The scholarship covers ‘home’ tuition fees (up to £9,500 per year). Applicants will need to demonstrate that they can cover their living costs whilst at university.
Other institutions might be able to provide more support for postgraduate study. STAR (Student Action for Refugees) provides a list of higher education institutions that offer support for asylum seekers including for postgraduate students.
Find out more about our funding options for postgraduate study.
Not ready for university-level study
If you are not yet ready for university-level study, have a look at the support available from Cardiff University’s Widening Participation team. They offer free, Level 3 accredited community courses across Cardiff, in partnership with First Campus and the Continuing and Professional Education department. Contact them to find out more:
Lena Smith is our dedicated member of staff for students with an asylum-seeking status and will be your first point of contact. Lena can help you with:
- Support with academic related issues including liaising with your academic department and course tutor.
- Signposting to other Cardiff University services including help to apply for Student Finance if you become eligible during your studies.
- Referral to trauma specialised counsellor.
- Referrals to charities and other potential sources of funding.
- Simply just someone to talk to if you need to.
You can contact Lena through Student Connect.
Cardiff welcomes people seeking safety and wants to create a feeling of inclusion by encouraging the acceptance of culture, skills and differences.