Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit

Information for students

RefugEAP logoRefugEAP is a free online pre-university academic English skills programme for refugee-background students across the UK. It is for students who need to improve their academic English skills to help them access a degree programme at university, but perhaps have not been able to access a formal pre-sessional English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme yet.

  • English language level required: Upper-Intermediate (IELTS 5.5-6.5 / CEFR B2)
  • Previous academic qualifications required: you need to have qualifications equivalent to UK Level 3 or above (i.e. meet academic requirements for admission to your chosen degree programme)
  • Delivery mode: online only (live Zoom sessions plus independent study tasks)
  • Course length: 10 weeks of classes (Module 1) + an optional further 10 weeks of 1:1 support and workshops (Module 2)
  • Taught hours per week: 3 (2 x 90 minute evening sessions over Zoom)
  • Independent study hours per week: 3-6
  • Technical requirements:
    • A stable internet connection (particularly for live classes)
    • Access to a laptop/computer (this might be your own, or borrowed from a friend, or accessed at another place, such as a university or a library)
    • Microphone (and ideally also a webcam)
  • Exam: after completing Module 2, students can choose to take an optional IELTS test (if required)

Key dates 

  • Next course start date: 2 October 2023 to 15 December 2023 (Week 0 - 10)
  • Application deadline: Applications are now closed for October 2023 entry. The next available start date will be October 2024.

Complete our checklist to discover if this is the course for you

Course aims

RefugEAP provides students with the opportunity to: 

  1. Develop awareness of the language required for studying in a UK Higher Education context (e.g. appropriate language for written / spoken contexts, improving levels of accuracy, knowledge of academic vocabulary)
  2. Develop awareness of the skills required for studying in a UK Higher Education context (e.g. independent study, time management, group work skills, critical thinking skills, presentation skills, peer feedback)
  3. Develop knowledge of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as evaluating them through a critical lens
  4. Become more reflective learners (e.g. reflecting on the effectiveness of learning strategies)
  5. Become more autonomous learners (e.g. participating actively in the learning process, managing time and work load)

Course features

The RefugEAP programme will offer students the following benefits:

  • 3 hours of live classes per week (2 x 90 minute evening sessions)
  • 3-6 hours of independent study tasks per week of the course. (Please note that the independent study tasks are a compulsory part of the course, and around 50% of the course input and learning occurs through these activities)
  • Experienced volunteer academic English tutors
  • Access to a dedicated online learning platform for this course (OneNote), containing:
    • Lesson materials
    • Independent study tasks
    • A range of useful academic English learning resources
    • A personal notebook of materials for each student
    • A personal development plan for each student
  • Feedback on writing and speaking tasks
  • Meet other students who are preparing to study at university
  • An opportunity to reflect on your learning needs going forward and create study goals (via 1:1 tutorials with your tutor, a Personal Development Plan and writing weekly reflections on your progress)
  • Additional support from our partner charity RefuAid
  • A certificate of completion if you attend 80% of the taught sessions and complete the majority of the independent study tasks

Frequently Asked Questions

Is RefugEAP the same as an IELTS course?

No, RefugEAP is not primarily an IELTS course (although many of the skills you learn on this course will also help you with IELTS).

Module 1 of RefugEAP is a pre-university academic English course, which focuses on helping you reach the level of English and academic skills you need to enter university. It will focus on certain academic skills which are not included in IELTS, such as: finding and using academic sources in your writing; referencing correctly; writing longer essays; giving academic presentations; listening to lectures; reading academic articles. This is much closer to authentic university tasks than IELTS tasks are. If you feel you need an IELTS preparation course instead of an academic skills course, RefugEAP probably isn’t the best course for your needs.

However, in Module 2 of RefugEAP, you will have an opportunity to attend some IELTS workshops if you need to take an IELTS test to demonstrate your English level when applying to university. You can only attend Module 2 once you have successfully completed Module 1.

Is RefugEAP a language course?

No, RefugEAP is not primarily a language course. The main focus of RefugEAP is academic skills to prepare you for university in the UK. There is a little bit of language work in the classes, but you are expected to do most of this in your independent study tasks and in any additional self-study (linked to your study goals in your personal development plan). If you feel you need a language course instead of an academic skills course, RefugEAP probably isn’t the best course for your needs.

What if I have to miss some classes? Will I still be able to receive an attendance certificate?

To receive an attendance certificate, you need to attend at least 80% of classes and complete the majority of the independent study tasks. Also, to keep your place on the course, you need to keep in regular contact with us to let us know when you need to be absent, and give us a reason.

What if I just want to attend the classes and not complete the independent study tasks?

The independent study tasks make up 50% of the course content and learning. They are a compulsory part of the course, helping you:

  • cover all of the course content;
  • prepare for the upcoming lessons;
  • improve your level of English more quickly;
  • make progress towards your personal goals on your personal development plan;
  • prepare you for the study style at UK universities.

We know that some students find it challenging doing independent study, so we will do everything we can to support you in this. However, if you know now that you cannot commit to spending 3-6 hours doing these tasks each week, RefugEAP probably isn’t the best course for your needs.

What if I don’t have access to a computer or the internet?

Please get in touch with us if you cannot access a computer or don’t have adequate internet access. We work with a charity called Screen Share, which has a small number of laptops which it can offer to RefugEAP students who are in real need of one.

What if I don’t have evidence of my qualifications?

Don’t worry about this at this stage. We work with organisations who can help you with this.

What if I have difficulties during the course?

We understand that students may have unexpected challenges throughout the course. We will always try to support you to enable you to continue with your studies.

What if I don’t know my exact English language level before I apply?

If you don’t have a clear idea of your current English level, you can roughly check your level using the online Cambridge English Language Assessment before you fill in the application form. That way, you can let us know in the application form what your approximate level is. To have the best chance of benefiting from this course, your level should be Upper-Intermediate (IELTS 5.5-6.5 / CEFR B2). If your level is lower than that, we recommend that you work on improving your level of general English first.

When you have completed the application form, if you meet the criteria for the course then we will invite you for an online initial assessment. This will last for 1 hour and will test your level in more detail.

How to apply

To apply for a place on the RefugEAP programme:

  • Read all of the information very carefully, including the Frequently Asked Questions, and make sure you have clearly understood what the course is about
  • Complete the checklist
  • If you can answer ‘yes’ to every question on the checklist, complete the RefugEAP needs analysis form
  • We will look at your answers to the form, and, if we think you are eligible for the course, we will invite you to complete a one-hour online test to confirm your English language level
  • If your English language level is suitable for the course (between IELTS 5.5 and 6.5), we will invite you to the RefugEAP Induction Week (see dates above). This will be a week of workshops where you can find out more about the course and make a final decision about whether you would like to commit to the course

Contact us

If you have any questions about the RefugEAP Programme, you can contact us on

Listen to a British Council Teaching English podcast featuring the RefugEAP Programme

I can tell for 100% that I’m truly satisfied with the quality and the flow of the programme. It is designed with love, and I received so much support both from academic side and psychological side.

Iuliia Kniupa - RefugEAP Programme student from Ukraine

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