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Advice and Counselling Service

Students with a refugee or asylum background

Queen Mary University of London is committed to providing support for those who have either been granted refugee status, or a different status as the result of an asylum application, or who are awaiting a decision on their asylum application, so that you can access university and achieve your potential when you are here.  

How we support you

This webpage explains what Queen Mary support is available, who to contact for further advice, as well as giving links to some external organisations who can provide support. 

Support at Queen Mary is largely delivered by Welfare Advisers working within the Queen Mary Students standing in front buildings with colourful graffitiAdvice and Counselling Service. One of the Welfare Advisers will be your dedicated key contact for support during your time at Queen Mary. You are encouraged to contact us to access this support before you start at Queen Mary. However, you are also welcome to contact us at any stage of your course. We will be able to support you with a whole range of welfare, financial and practical issues. And if you need support from a different service or department, we will be able to help you contact the right person. Once you have had an initial appointment with a Welfare Adviser, you will be able to contact that person if you need any further support at any time.

Applying to Queen Mary

If you are applying for an undergraduate programme, you will apply through UCAS. Postgraduate students apply directly to the University.

The Queen Mary online course finder has information for each course including the course content, entry requirements, and learning and teaching information. It also lists contact details for each course for any enquiries you may have: 

Queen Mary also has open days for undergraduates and for postgraduates where you can find out about studying here and student life.  

You will need to meet the English language requirements for your chosen programme. Once you are a student, you can attend freein-sessional English language classes if you would benefit from further language support.  

Queen Mary Admissions considers refugees and asylum seekers within our contextual admissions policy which is explained on the Admissions website. This applies to undergraduate degree level study only.  

As long as your immigration permission permits study, you will be able to enrol at Queen Mary. If you are not sure whether your immigration permission permits study, or you need to check which documents you would need to show in order to enrol at Queen Mary, you can email with a copy of your most recent Home Office documentation confirming your status if you have this. 

Refugee Education UK has detailed information about going to university for a range of different immigration statuses, and a one-to-one advice service where you can message or email them your questions. See their website for more information. Birkbeck, University of London, provide Get Started videos to answer common questions and to help guide your decision-making.  

Tuition fee status

Universities have two rates of tuition fee - a 'home' rate and an 'overseas' rate. We have webpagethat explains how the decision is made about which rate of tuition fee a student is liable for. The tuition fee for each programme is listed on the online course finders: undergraduate course finderundergraduate course finderand taught postgraduate course finder. 


If you have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection by the UK government, or you are a relevant family member of someone who has been granted one of those statuses, you will be entitled to pay the 'home' rate of tuition fees if you meet certain criteria. These are explained on the UKCISA webpage 'England HE Fee Status'. If you or your relevant family member is recognised as a refugee after the start of the course, you will be entitled to 'home' fees from the start of the next academic year if you meet the requirements on the UKCISA web page.

Asylum seekers 

If you have made a claim for asylum but the outcome has not yet been decided, you will normally be liable for the overseas rate of tuition fee. However, Queen Mary is pleased to offer a tuition fee concession to all asylum seekers or children of asylum seekers who meet certain criteria, so that you will pay the 'home' rate of tuition fee while your asylum application is under consideration by the Home Office. This fee concession will be available to undergraduate students on all programmes, except those offered by the School of Medicine and Dentistry. It is important to be aware that if you get the fee concession, you will still need to secure funding to pay your tuition fees at the home rate, as those who have made an asylum claim but not yet had an outcome are not normally eligible for Student Finance from the UK government. 

You can read about the fee concession including the eligibility criteria and application process. If you have already applied for a Sanctuary Scholarship you will be considered for an asylum seekers fee concession automatically if you meet the eligibility requirements and do not need to submit a further application form.  

Government Student Finance

Please read our webpages about Student Finance for undergraduates and for postgraduates. These include sections on eligibility. If you are eligible, the webpages also explain how to apply for Student Finance. If you are alone in the UK without parents, please check the section on applying as an independent student.  If you are care experienced, please also read our webpage about that.  

Queen Mary Sanctuary Scholarship

Queen Mary University offers up to two Sanctuary Scholarships each academic year to new undergraduate students who are asylum seekers or have a temporary immigration status awarded because of a claim for asylum but outside of the immigration rules. This excludes programmes in the School of Medicine and Dentistry.  

Successful applicants will be awarded a full tuition fee waiver and maintenance support. The amounts are detailed on the website as well as the application deadline. Pleasecontact a Welfare Adviserif you would like help applying.  

If your Sanctuary Scholarship application is unsuccessful, unless you have access to alternative funding for your tuition fees and living costs, you would normally need to ask to defer your university place. You are permitted to apply for the Sanctuary Scholarship again in future years. Or if you will meet the Student Finance eligibility requirements in future you might decide to wait to start university until then.

Trusts and Charities

You can try looking for grants from trusts and charities. STAR (Student Action for Refugees) has a list of organisations offering financial support. And if you sign up to the STAR mailing list they send useful updates including information about trusts and charities. Refugee Education UK also has a list of scholarships for asylum seekers. Please also see our guidance on Trusts and Charities.   

Additional Funding

Cost of living and planning your budget 

It is very important to plan your budget carefully for university, so that you understand the costs of living, tuition fees, and where you will get your money from to cover those costs. 

We have information on costs of living as a student, so you can see what kinds of expenses you will have and how much money you might need for a whole academic year. The cost of living does vary a lot according to lifestyle, so you can adapt the guidance to create your own personal budget plan.  

By planning a budget you will be able to work out whether university is going to be affordable for you. It will also enable you to be more in control of your money as you will know your total income and your total expenses, as well as when you will receive your income during the year, and when you will have to pay for expenses. It will enable you to identify in advance any gap between your income and expenses, so you can think how to either reduce your spending or increase your income. 

A Welfare Adviser can help you to plan your budget, either before you join Queen Mary or at any time during your course. They can also help you check whether you have applied for all of the funding you are eligible for.  



You will need to decide which accommodation works best for you according to your circumstances. If you have been in Local Authority care, please see the Accommodation information on our separate web page for Care Experienced students.

First year undergraduate students are guaranteed a room in Queen Mary halls of residence as long as you apply for housing by the deadline of 30 June.  

Current students can apply for Queen Mary housing over the summer vacation, whether or not you are already living in halls, but this may mean changing residences. You can only apply for summer housing in March during the academic year in which you want the summer housing. To apply, email and ask to be emailed a summer housing application form. Rooms are allocated from the end of April onwards. There is no application deadline but it is best to apply early in case rooms fill up.  

Support from external organisations

STAR (Student Action for Refugees) runs an Equal Access Network for current and aspiring students from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds. This network can provide peer support to students seeking sanctuary. The network will provide opportunities for students to connect on social media and attend regular online events. Full details are available on the STAR website.  

We Belong is an organisation led by young people who migrated to the UK. They work with and for young migrants to campaign for better outcomes and opportunities, including equal access to Higher Education.  

Hope for the Young is a charity that exists to help young refugees and asylum seekers into education through financial support, mentoring and advocacy. They have grants to help towards living costs. Applications usually close 1 April for the following academic year. You can apply if you are already at university, or if you will be starting university in the next academic year. Eligibility and application details are on their website. Applicants need to be referred so if you are eligible, please contact a Welfare Adviserfor this.  

Refugee Education UK is a charity which supports refugee children and young people to be able to access education, and to reach their academic potential. 

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