Higher Education: Refugees

Department for Education written question – answered on 9th September 2016.

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Photo of Jamie Reed Jamie Reed Labour, Copeland

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many people with refugee status have undertaken study at the level of higher education in the UK in each of the last six years.

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Holding answer received on 07 September 2016

The Government has a longstanding and proud tradition of providing a safe haven to those who have no choice but to leave their home country because of endangerment to their lives or those of their families.

Student support is available to those recognised as refugees (and their spouses, civil partners and children named on the initial application for asylum), provided they have been ordinarily resident in the British Islands since being recognised by the Government as a refugee and are ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course. They are exempt from the three year residence requirement.

Asylum seekers who are recognised as refugees after the start of their course may qualify for support for the remainder of their studies as follows:

  • living cost support in any subsequent years of the course (and in the quarters following the award in the year of the award); and

  • fee assistance in any subsequent years of the course (and in the year of the award if the award is made within three months of the first day of the academic year of the course).

Information on the total number of students with a refugee status undertaking Higher Education courses in the UK is not available.

Information is available from the Student Loans Company (SLC) on applicants with refugee status awarded student finance. Management information from the SLC showing the number of refugee applicants awarded loans in England in each of the last six years can be found in the table below:

English Domiciled applicants with a refugee status awarded student loans

Academic years 2009/10 to 2014/15 (data effective as at the end of each academic year)

Academic Year

Number of refugees awarded loans













Source: SLC, Management Information

Note: Awards do not necessarily translate into payments. An awarded applicant will only receive payments once SLC has received confirmation from the student’s provider at the start of the academic year that the student has been registered on the course.

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