6 January 2021

In light of the disruption caused by recent coronavirus restrictions, UCAS has extended the deadline to submit undergraduate applications by two weeks. If you’re looking to start an undergraduate course in September 2021, you need to apply by 6pm on Friday 29 January.

September 2021 may feel like a long way off, but if you want to apply for an undergraduate course for the 2021/22 academic year then you need to submit your application through UCAS, the UK application system for undergraduate courses, by 29th January 2021. This is the deadline to ensure that your application is given equal consideration.

If you might not be eligible to student finance because of a continuing asylum claim or because you have limited leave to remain (see below), you should consider applying to universities that have scholarship programmes for people seeking refugee protection in the UK. While not all universities have confirmed their scholarship programmes for 2021/22, you can check if a university offered scholarships in 2020/21 and is therefore likely to offer them for 2021/22. A full list can be found on the STAR website.

Even if you do apply for a scholarship you will still have to apply through UCAS (or directly to universities for postgraduate courses) and receive a place at that university before applying for the scholarship programme.

How do I know if I’m eligible for student finance?

In general, in the UK, if you have refugee status or Humanitarian Protection you are eligible for student finance. This means that you can apply for a student loan to cover your course fees and living costs. If you are seeking asylum, you cannot access student finance. If you have discretionary or limited leave to remain you will are only able to access student finance if you are:

  • Under 18 years old and have lived in the UK for at least 7 years before the first day of the first academic year of your course; or
  • Aged 18 years and above and have either spent at least half your life in the UK or at least 20 years in the UK prior to the first day of the first academic year of your course.

For a detailed explanation of student finance eligibility for refugees and people seeking asylum visit the UKCISA website and the Refugee Support Network website.

Applying to UCAS – a step by step guide

  1. Take a look at STAR’s Applying to University page on accessing higher education in the UK as a refugee or asylum seeker.
  2. Read the UCAS guidance on student finance for refugees and asylum seekers.
  3. Look at the Complete University Guide tips on choosing and applying to university
  4. When making your choice consider applying to those universities on the STAR list that offer scholarships, especially if you aren’t currently eligible for student finance. Be sure to check the criteria for each scholarship on the university website.
  5. For help filling out your application form, read UCAS guidance on undergraduate applications (also available in other languages on the UCAS website).
  6. For resources and guidance on how to write a UCAS undergraduate personal statement, use the UCAS Personal Statement Tool. Guidance for refugees and asylum seekers is also available on the UCAS website, developed in partnership with STAR’s Equal Access Activists.
  7. The UCAS deadline for most undergraduate courses is now 29th January but check this is true for your course on the UCAS website.
  8. You can then start preparing your scholarship application. Some scholarships are already open, but most will open from February or March for 2021/22 entry – each one has different opening and closing dates and you can always check with the university to find this out. We will advertise these nearer the time.

What if I am unable to apply by the 29th January deadline?

29th January is the deadline for your application to be given equal consideration. This means that it is guaranteed to be considered by the universities you have selected. If you are unable to meet the 29th January deadline, late applications can be submitted up to 30 June 2021 but there is a chance that university places will be filled and your application will not be reviewed. If you need to submit a late application due to extenuating circumstances, try to contact your chosen universities as soon as possible to explain your situation and to confirm that they will accept your application.

If you wish to apply for an undergraduate course after 30 June, your application will be entered into ‘Clearing’ – the process universities and colleges use to fill any places they still have on their courses. Read more about Clearing on the UCAS website.

Where can I get further support?

There are lots of organisations that can help – they’re all listed on our resources and organisations page. Check it out if you want more support!

To stay up to date on upcoming deadlines, scholarships, and other opportunities, sign up to the Equal Access Mailing List.

Want to support STAR’s Equal Access Campaign? Donate to our Equal Access Fundraiser.

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