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Jim Price

Head of Student Immigration Services

01392 725 502

For questions about tuition fees and scholarships please email


Claire Botham

Student Advisor within the Student's Guild 

Asylum seekers and refugees

We are proud to welcome asylum seekers and refugees to study at all levels and are working hard to ensure that we can provide fair access to higher education for those who have had to travel internationally to escape danger. We strive to provide a supportive educational framework for those who have been displaced, and are sympathetic to the challenges faced by those seeking sanctuary in the UK.

One of the main ways we can help is to provide assistance with fees and funding, giving you an opportunity to receive quality higher education here in the UK.


The charity Refugee Education UK has produced a short film which helps to guide you through the process fo applying for university


During our admissions processes we take into consideration the context in which applicants have achieved their academic qualifications. If candidates meet certain eligibility criteria, we may make an offer which is lower than our typical entry requirements. 

Undergraduate applicants who are refugees, asylum seekers or have Humanitarian Protection or Limited Leave to Remain (or are a relevant family member of anyone with one of these immigration statuses) will be made a contextual offer. You can find out what this offer might look like via our contextual offer checker

We will also take into account relevant mitigating circumstances when making offers to postgraduate applicants.

We understand that the cost of higher education is a significant barrier to asylum seekers and refugees who wish to gain academic and vocational qualifications. If you would like financial advice please contact Claire Botham within the Guild.

Partial tuition fee waiver

At UK universities, international students (ie, those who do not reside in the UK or the EU) typically pay more for tuition than students from the UK.

However, if you are a current asylum seeker, you may be eligible for our partial tuition fee waiver. While you will still be classed as an international student, your tuition fees will be the same as those for students from the UK, relieving you of some of the financial burden associated with university study.

This programme is open to all applicants to undergraduate programmes, excluding BMBS Medicine and any other course of study that receives funding from the NHS.

To be eligible, you will need to:

  • meet the entry requirements for your chosen undergraduate course;
  • have an asylum application in process before applying to study through UCAS; and
  • be granted discretionary leave at least until the first day of the academic year for your chosen programme (usually 1st September).

Sanctuary scholarship

Open to asylum seekers and refugees who are not able to access student finance, and who are applying for undergraduate and doctoral programmes at the University of Exeter, the Sanctuary Scholarship provides full tuition fee waivers, grants for living costs and research funding where applicable.

For information about eligibility, please go to the scholarship’s dedicated webpage.

English language skills

The University runs an English Language Development programme for any students who feel they need to improve their English language skills.

All students studying at the Exeter campuses can also seek help and advice on academic matters from the Study Zone. Students studying at the Penryn campus will have access to language and study skills workshops provided by ASK (Academic Skills)


Right to work

Your employment rights depend on whether you have the right to work in the UK; it’s best to seek expert advice.

In the last 15 years, Exeter has welcomed asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, and more recently those fleeing the conflict in Syria. Recently, a number of unaccompanied minors were also relocated to Devon.

There are a variety of local groups, organisations and charities providing support and guidance to asylum seekers and refugees, including Refugee Support Devon and Exeter City of Sanctuary.

The University of Exeter supports the principles and aims of the City of Sanctuary network. We are proud to be a University of Sanctuary, which recognises the work that we have done to make our university one that is welcoming and accessible to forced migrants who have sought sanctuary in the UK.

The University is committed to conducting cutting-edge research into issues that affect asylum seekers, making a positive contribution to academic and public discourse on this sensitive topic.

In 2016 Dr Nick Gill led a project which contributed to the release of hundreds of asylum seekers from detention after the UK government’s controversial Detained Fast Track rules were deemed unlawful by High Court Judges. This was a major victory for asylum seekers, refugees and those who support them, and we are hugely proud of our involvement.

Researchers from our Geography and Life and Environmental Sciences departments have been engaged in a Refugee Council-backed project examining the process of asylum appeals in British courts. To find out more about the project or to participate, please click here.

I have always wanted to pursue a higher education degree ever since I graduated. However, the chances were very limited and leaving Gaza to study elsewhere was an almost impossible mission. I was not able to afford studying abroad without a scholarship. Staying here away from my family was a tough choice but being part of a university community and doing research on a topic that I’m passionate about has made this choice much easier for me. As a refugee in the UK, I was not entitled to state funds and the funding opportunities were limited. Fortunately, University of Exeter is part of the University of Sanctuary scheme where they give student funds and scholarships to refugees and asylum seekers who are looking to continue their higher education. The support I received from my supervisors and other students and professors who work in the university has been very helpful and it made it much easier for me to be part of the university community. The university offers a range of very helpful services and communities that will make students feel included and supported whenever they’re going through tough times.

Roba, 2nd year PhD student