Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit

University application guidance

If you want to apply to university but you don’t know where to start.

Take your time and do your research

Remember that you are not behind. You are on your own schedule. There is no age limit to study. You are more likely to succeed if you are well prepared and take your time.

There is a huge variety of subjects and courses available at UK universities, so do plenty of research.

How do you find out about the different courses available? 

Check your funding options

Your funding options will vary depending on your immigration status, how long you have been living in the UK and some other factors.

Check your exact immigration status and look at your funding options on the Refugee Education UK website.

If you want to apply for an undergraduate degree but have already completed an undergraduate degree before (in the UK or in a different country), it is likely that you will not qualify for a (full) student finance loan, no matter what your immigration status is. 

If you do not qualify for student finance, you will need to find an alternative way to fund your studies such as a Sanctuary scholarship. You can check the list of Sanctuary scholarships available at the University of Leicester on our academic scholarships and home fees webpage, and the list of scholarships available across the UK on the website of Student Action for Refugees (STAR).

If you need a scholarship, we recommend that you only apply for courses at universities that offer Sanctuary scholarships. However, make sure you check the detail of each scholarship carefully (who is eligible, how many scholarships are available, what does it include, when do you need to apply by, etc). 

If you are living in NASS accommodation, it would probably be preferable that you keep on living in your accommodation and find a university at commuting distance. Moving out from your NASS accommodation may impact your NASS support.

Check if you meet the course entry requirements

Try to get copies of your school and/or university transcripts and certificates (or anything you can find to evidence your prior education – student card, list of modules, course brochure/website, reference letter, certificate of registration, etc).  

If you do not have copies of your certificates and transcripts, it will be more difficult for you to get a place. However, there may be other ways by which universities can assess your level of education, such as asking you to write an essay, take a test or attend an interview.  

If you are interested in studying a course at the University of Leicester, you may be able to find out if you meet the entry requirements by checking the Information for your country.

However, we understand it is not easy to check this yourself. We recommend you contact the admissions team of the relevant university to check if your qualifications meet the entry requirements/eligibility criteria of the course. If you have any relevant work or volunteering experience, it is also helpful to include a CV. 

Entry requirements will vary from one university to another, and from one course to another. So do not limit yourself to one subject/course or one university.  If you are applying for an undergraduate degree, you can apply for up to 5 different courses/universities in the first stage, and there is no limit to how many universities you can contact informally (by phone or email) before making your official application through the UCAS website

It is important to remember that a secondary school qualification from a different country may not be equivalent to a UK secondary school qualification. Your grades may also make a difference. University admissions team have access to the ECCTIS system (formerly called NARIC) and can check your qualifications’ UK equivalence. 

If you do not meet the entry requirements, you may need to take an Access to Higher Education course at a further education (FE) college or do a foundation year. However, please note that you cannot get a student finance loan for an international foundation programme. So unless they offer a scholarship, this is probably not the best option for you. 

Do you meet the English language requirement?

Students also need to have a sufficient level of English in order to be able to study an academic programme at a UK university. The most widely accepted English qualification is the Academic IELTS, or Leicester applicants may be able to join our presessional English programme. Check our English language classes and support webpage for more information. 

When and how to apply for an undergraduate degree programme

The UCAS website explains exactly when to apply depending on your subject and how to fill in your online application. They also give you tips on how to write your personal statement.

Deadlines for UCAS application for September 2023 entry are:

  • 15 October 2022 for 2023 entry at 6.00pm (UK time) – any course at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry. You can add choices with a different deadline later, but don’t forget you can only have five choices in total.
  • 25 January 2023 for 2023 entry at 6.00pm (UK time) – for the majority of courses.

You can still apply after the January deadline, but you have more chances to get a place if you apply on time. 

If you need a scholarship, you would need to have an offer before you can apply for the scholarship. You will need to apply for the scholarship separately, so keep an eye on scholarship application deadlines!

Online information sessions run by UCAS and Student Action for Refugees 

Watch recordings of previous information sessions

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