Published: 7 March 2022
Last updated: 3 April 2023
STAR stands in solidarity with those who are affected by the invasion of Ukraine. While we are not able to offer advice or casework, we continue to campaign for the right to seek sanctuary in the UK and for Equal Access to higher education for refugees and people seeking asylum. In this article we have collated useful information for affected students who are studying or about to start studying in the UK.
Please note: We updated this webpage in April 2023, but please check direct links for the most recent information.
The UK government has issued visa routes and concessions for some people affected by the crisis in Ukraine, including individuals on student visas:
- A Visa Extension Scheme is available for Ukrainian nationals who had permission to stay in the UK on or before 18 March 2022. If you are on a Student visa that is due to expire you can apply to extend your leave, switch to a Graduate visa, or switch to another type of visa if you meet the Immigration Rules. Read more on the UKCISA website.
- Family visas are available for family members of British nationals or Ukrainian nationals resident in the UK. For more details, check the GOV.UK website and read this Free Movement article.
- Homes for Ukraine is a local sponsorship scheme through which individuals and organisations can sponsor Ukrainian nationals to come to the UK. Unfortunately, as STAR is a very small charity we are sorry to say that we are unable to act as a sponsor. Reset offers a matching service.
- UKCISA has an advice line for international students – please note that the UKCISA only offers advice on Student and Graduate immigration routes, fees, and finance and is not able to provide advice on claiming asylum or family reunion.
UKCISA international student advice line: +4420 7788 9214
Open Monday to Friday, 1.00pm to 4.00pm (UK time)
Student finance and fee status for Ukrainian nationals in the UK
The Department for Education has confirmed that individuals who are in the UK on the Ukraine visa schemes (Homes for Ukraine, Ukraine Family Scheme, and Ukraine Extension Scheme) will have access to student finance and will be treated as home students for fees purposes in England. Student finance refers to government-sponsored student loans to cover tuition fees and living costs while studying at university. Additional funding will also be given to universities to support current students from Ukraine who are in need of financial hardship assistance. Read the Minister for Higher and Further Education’s announcement.
The Scottish government has announced that individuals on the three schemes will be eligible for free tuition and living cost support and the Welsh government has published information about support for Higher Education students seeking sanctuary from the war in Ukraine.
From 1 August 2022, if you have been granted leave under the Homes for Ukraine or Ukraine Family schemes, or under the Ukraine Extension scheme, and have been a resident in the UK, you will treated the same as a UK resident for higher education funding. You will also qualify for advanced learner loans for further education courses. You do not need to demonstrate three years ordinary residence in the UK before the start of your course, but you will need to show that you have been resident in the UK since your leave was granted.
Watch our playlist with the Student Loans Company about applying for a student loan, including information about eligibility for people on the Ukraine schemes.
International students who were studying in Ukraine
Ukraine was home to 70,000 international students, many of whom have been forcibly displaced since the conflict began. This includes a large cohort of international students from Africa who have experienced racism and discrimination at European borders, and who are currently lacking support to continue their studies. The Africans in Ukraine Education Fund provides resources and support for African students wishing to continue their studies elsewhere.
STAR campaigns for equal access to higher education for all who are seeking sanctuary in the UK, and many of the below opportunities are open to displaced people of all backgrounds who are now in the UK.
If you are in need of legal or immigration advice:
- The Ukraine Advice Project is offering a free service to connect Ukrainian citizens in need of free legal advice on UK immigration, visas and asylum with qualified and regulated lawyers.
- The Work Rights Centre has guidance for people affected by the crisis in Ukraine and is offering immigration support.
- Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s Migrant Children’s Project offer one-off email advice from a specialist solicitor on all issues affecting migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children and young people, whether they are separated or in families. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Right to Remain Toolkit is a step-by-step user-friendly guide to the UK immigration and asylum system.
If you are studying or about to study at a UK university and your studies may be affected by the crisis, STAR recommends reaching out to staff at your university:
- Check your university’s website to see if they have announced support for students affected by the crisis in Ukraine.
- Talk to the university’s financial team for information about hardship funds or concerns related to paying your fees.
- Talk to your academic or personal tutor about concerns related to any academic work that may be affected.
- Talk to student support or well-being services about accessing additional pastoral or mental health support.
If you are in the UK and looking for financial or educational support:
- Displaced Student Opportunities UK features scholarships, grants, English language courses and other forms of support to help people who are refugees or seeking asylum in the UK to access university. You can select ‘Ukraine schemes’ under ‘Immigration status’ on the home page.
- Grants to support academic costs.
- University scholarships for applicants with insecure immigration statuses.
- Over 80 universities in the UK offer scholarships for students who are seeking asylum or from a refugee background. Some universities may open their scholarships to Ukrainian nationals or students who were previously studying in Ukraine – select ‘Ukraine schemes’ under ‘Filter by eligibility’ on the STAR scholarships list or contact the university to find out.
- Funding for college (pre-university courses).
- The government has confirmed that all Ukrainian adults and their family members supported through the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme are immediately eligible for funding for Level 2 and 3 courses. That this covers the cost of certain college (pre-university) courses (including English language). Read more about qualification levels in the UK on GOV.UK and contact your local college to see what courses are available.
- You can also find guidance about how to apply for university on the Access to university section of the STAR website and on our YouTube channel.
If you are looking for English language support:
- The Trinity College Language Access Fund has launched a special round of funding to help those who have been affected by the war in Ukraine.
- Oxford International Education Group is offering free online courses in English for Culture and English for Business for Ukrainian nationals who are new to the UK.
- The Institute of Translating and Interpreting is offering free templates for document translations that are commonly needed for visa applications.
- RefuAid offers support with English language preparation and IELTS exams.
- A number of organisations and universities offer free English language programmes for refugees. Click on ‘English language programmes’ and ‘Online courses’ on our Pre-university courses page.
If you are currently outside of the UK and looking for financial or educational support:
- The Science for Ukraine initiative lists opportunities available for Ukrainian researchers or students, including at institutions in the UK.
- The UNHCR Opportunities platform advertises scholarship programmes that are open to people who are displaced globally.
- Cara’s Fellowship Programme supports academics at immediate risk around the world to escape to a place of safety where they can continue their work.
- Scholars at Risk works with its global network of higher education institutions around the world to arrange short-term, temporary research and teaching positions for threatened scholars.
- In 2023, the British Academy and Cara offered a Researchers at Risk Fellowship Programme. The fellowship is currently closed for applications, and further submission windows will be subject to funding being available.
- QS Top Universities have shared guidance for international students currently in Ukraine.
The following organisations offer free mental health and well-being support for students and young people:
- Student Minds have information about support programmes and services that may be available to you at university.
- Young Minds have resources to support you and your mental health. You can also access 24/7 support via the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger. Just text YM to 85258 for free, any time of the day.
Sane Ukraine are holding daily online trauma and resilience support sessions for Ukrainians everywhere who need practical psychological and emotional support, led by experts and translated into Ukrainian. Sessions are held on zoom every day at 5:30pm UK time.