Several universities and charities offer programmes to help refugee and asylum-seeking applicants to prepare for higher education. These courses are designed to give you the tools you need to succeed at university, such as language skills, study skills, or subject knowledge.

Each programme listed below has a different focus and they vary from short courses to long-term programmes, some of which lead to a formal qualification. Take a look and find a course that suits you.

To stay up to date on new courses and opportunities, sign up to the STAR Equal Access mailing list.

The RefuAid ‘Language: A Gateway’ project increases access to English language tuition for people who have claimed asylum in the UK and those in the process of doing so.

The Compass Project offers guidance and workshops to those wanting to enter higher education from forced migrant backgrounds. It also offers scholarship programmes to complete a Certificate of Higher Education, Foundation Year, or first year of an undergraduate programme at Birkbeck.

  • Refugee Scholarship – David Game Higher Education, London

    David Game Higher Education in London offers a 50% fee waiver for each year for the Higher National Diploma courses (Business, Public Services or Art & Design, Graphic Design) for individuals with refugee status.

  • Bowman Scholarship – University College London (UCL)

UCL offers a fee waiver for the Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate (UPC), UCL’s International Foundation course, on either the Sciences and Engineering (UPCSE) or the Humanities and Social Sciences (UPCH) pathway. The UPC provides students with a qualification to enter an undergraduate degree at UCL or other top-ranked UK universities.

The University of Cambridge’s Foundation Year Programme offers a fully-funded, year-long, residential programme, targeted at students who have experienced a range of educational disadvantages or disruptions and who want to study courses in the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences.

The 10-week OLIve course offers an opportunity for students to find out what skills and knowledge are needed in order to apply for and succeed in HE and in the UK. The course also provides modules and workshops in English language and academic writing, research skills, academic tutoring and introduction to academic discussions. Download the latest flyer.

A 10-week course to support progression into higher education at UCL and other higher education institutions, including Teacher Training (PGCE) programmes.

A two-year scheme designed to support students in their first year of sixth form or college on their journey to university. 

The University of Surrey offers an access programme to help young people in Years 10 to 13 prepare for university, including students from forced migrant backgrounds.

The University of York offers a fee waiver, accommodation, and a bursary for its Summer School programme to secondary/high school students who are resident in the UK and have a refugee or asylum seeker status.

Breaking Barriers’ education programme provides tailored English language support and training courses that can increase employability and help you prepare to enter the workplace. 

Marlborough College’s summer programme offers a number of places to refugees as part of the Al-Rashid Scholarship. The school offers English Language tuition, social opportunities, promotes critical thinking, creativity and project management.

Aberystwyth assists sanctuary seeking students with the costs of a 6 or 12-week Pre-sessional English Course at Aberystwyth University to help them prepare for degree-level study.

As part of its Sanctuary Scholarship offer for full degrees, the University of Bath covers the cost of pre-sessional English language programmes that are combined with postgraduate degree programmes (MSc, MA, MBA, stand-alone MRes).

As part of its Sanctuary Scholarship offer for full degrees, the University of Bradford covers the cost of pre-sessional English language programmes if your English language level is not high enough to meet the entry requirements of the University/your course.

UEA offers two scholarships on a 12-week or 8-week Pre-sessional English course for applicants whose standard of English does not meet UEA’s course requirements. The successful applicants will receive a full fee waiver and a bursary of £1000. 

English Language Education offers one scholarship on a Pre-Sessional Language programme for University of Edinburgh Postgraduate offer holders who are refugees or asylum seekers. The scholarship covers all fees, and may also contribute towards accommodation and living expenses. Contact to enquire.

The University of Leicester’s Pre-sessional Programme is for students who want to start an undergraduate or postgraduate course at university, but first need to improve their level of English. The programmes offer a range of entry points from IELTS 4.0 to IELTS 6.0 and have various start dates throughout the year. An online option is also available.

The University of Reading offers a fee waiver for an 11-week English language course starting in June to asylum-seeking and refugee applicants living in the local area.

The University of Portsmouth offers a fee waiver for English language courses to individuals with an offer from the university who are seeking asylum or have a status as the result of an asylum claim. The bursary also covers the cost of an English Language Assessment if needed.

As part of its Sanctuary Scholarship offer for full undergraduate degrees, the University of Plymouth offers a fully-funded pre-sessional English course (to ensure scholars meet IELTS 6.0 requirements).

  • English Language Sanctuary Scholarships (Full-time and Part-time) – University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield offers free English language courses at a range of levels (part-time courses in general English and IELTS preparation, and full-time courses in pre-sessional English and University English). Scholarships are open to individuals who are currently seeking asylum or those with limited leave to remain or Humanitarian Protection.

The USW Refugee Sanctuary Scheme provides support to a limited number of eligible refugees via free English language tuition prior to starting an undergraduate course at the University.

A free 6 week online course (3 hours per week) offered by the University of East Anglia (UEA), including access to university lectures, key skills for undergraduate degrees and tips for starting well at university.

A free 3 week online course (3 hours per week) from the careers service at the University of Sheffield to help learners write successful applications, CVs, covering letters and personal statements.

A series of 4 online courses offered by the British Council to help you prepare for the IELTS Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening tests.

A free 4 week online course (3 hours per week) offered by King’s College London to learn about the digital technologies you can use to make your life, work and study easier.

A free 3 week course (2 hours per week) offered by the University of Glasgow to help you prepare for writing your medicine application and learn what it’s like to be a medical student.

A free 4 week course (4 hours per week) offered by King’s College London to help you learn the basics of business management.

Free online courses offered by the Open University. Courses cover a range of subjects and are available at different levels, so you can find the course that best suits you.

Alongside scholarships for full degree courses, the Open University offers 50 free places on its Access modules to help applicants develop the skills and confidence to progress into higher education.

A free 2 week course (3 hours per week) to help you prepare to study at university, explore the qualities of a successful student, and learn key vocabulary in an academic context.

A free 5 week course (3 hours per week) in which you can learn how to use English for study at university or college and develop your writing skills, vocabulary and grammar.

A free 5 week course (3 hours per week) in which you can improve your academic English skills further, learning about critical analysis, using sources, avoiding plagiarism and more.

A free 4 week course (3 hours per week) to develop your language and communication skills for a career in healthcare and learn new healthcare vocabulary in English.

Kiron offers online learning programmes for refugees and internally displaced people.

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