Not from UK: education
Education is not a ‘public fund’ – you are not necessarily prevented from studying if you have no immigration status or have ‘no recourse to public funds’.
However, your immigration status may have an impact on what education you can access and what funding you can get to study.
If you have no immigration status or are an asylum seeker you may also have ‘immigration bail’ papers. This may have a ‘no study condition’ that will prevent you from studying. If you have this, you should get legal advice urgently.
If you are unsure about how your immigration status might affect sixth form, college or university, you should get advice from a lawyer, a college, or your social worker (if you have one).
Can I go to school?
From the ages of 5 to 18 you can go to school in the UK wherever you are from and whatever your immigration status.
You may have to wait a little bit of time before you start school if there are no places left in the school at the start of the school year, or if the school year has already begun when you arrive, but you must get a place without a long delay. Your parents, carer or social worker should help you to find a school place.
I’m having practical problems enrolling
Sometimes it can be hard to enrol at school or college because you don’t have the right documents.
After you have made an application to the Home Office, but while you are waiting for your immigration status, you may still be able to go to college.
If you are having trouble enrolling, ask someone like a family member, social worker, mentor or support worker to go with you to the college to explain your situation.
Ask your lawyer for proof that you made an application (e.g. a letter) to show to the college. If the Home Office has your ID card or passport, your lawyer should have a copy they can give you to show to the college.
Remember that you should apply for many colleges – don’t wait for just one!
Can I study at sixth form or college?
You can apply to study at a sixth form or college wherever you are from and whatever your immigration status. However, you will need to meet the entry requirements. These will be different depending on where you choose to study but you will need to be able to speak a good level of English and have the right skills and qualifications to complete the course.
If you are aged 16 to 18 and you have refugee status, humanitarian protection, limited leave to remain, discretionary leave to remain, UASC leave or you are an asylum-seeker, you will be able to study at a sixth form or college for free. If you are being looked after by Children’s Services they will be able to help you with any additional educational costs.
Can I study at university?
You can attend university whatever your whatever your immigration status (unless you have particular immigration bail conditions). However, you will need to meet the entry requirements for the course. These will be different depending on where you choose to study but you will need to be able to speak a good level of English and have the right skills and qualifications to complete the course.
You will also need to be able to pay the course fees. The amount of money you will have to pay and the amount of help you can get will depend on your immigration status.
For more information see our legal fact sheet here.
I am an Asylum-seeker
If you are an asylum-seeker in full-time university education you may have to pay overseas fees, which are a lot more than home fees. However, it is the decision of the University and they may agree to reduce the fees they charge you instead. You should ask them to consider charging you the same amount as home fees.
If you get immigration status, or your status changes during your course, you will need advice from your lawyer, university student services or UK Council for International Student Affairs on how this affects any support you have or can get.
You can find a list of universities that offer free places to refugee and asylum seeking students here (some also cover your accommodation costs):
I have refugee status, humanitarian protection or indefinite leave to remain
If you are in full-time university education and you have refugee status, and have been living in the UK since you received leave to remain, the university you are studying at will charge you home fees, which are a lot lower than overseas fees.
If you have humanitarian protection or indefinite leave to remain (not including refugee indefinite leave to remain) you need three years ordinary residence (lawfully and normally resident) before you can get home fees.
If you have refugee status then you will also be entitled to student support (a student loan for tuition fees and living costs from the government or a university bursary (money that does not need to be paid back).
If you have humanitarian protection or indefinite leave to remain AND have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years when you begin your course, you will be able to get support with your fees.
I have limited leave to remain, discretionary leave or UASC leave
If you have limited leave to remain, UASC leave or leave on the basis of family life, you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years before beginning your course AND have lived in the UK for 7 years if you are under 18, or for half your life if you are over 18.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs can offer you further information on this.
What support can I get from Children’s Services to go university?
If you are looked-after or a care leaver, Children’s Services may help you with education costs, including travel and equipment costs, and sometimes tuition fees. Your social worker should have made a Pathway Plan with you which outlines your plans for the future, including education. Ask to talk to your personal advisor or social worker about what you want to study and how they can help.
For more information, see Leaving care support.
Funding and advice
Special funding is available from the government for colleges to teach asylum seekers and children in care and care leavers, for some college courses.
You may be able to get a bursary if you meet certain criteria – ask your college, or see here.
There are some charities which may be able to help with funding and advice. Some are listed here.