Access and Widening Participation


Forced migrant students

UCL recognises that forced migrant students can face particular obstacles when accessing higher education and we are committed to supporting individuals from this group.

Student painting

UCL encourages people with experience of involuntary migration to apply to study at UCL and aims to support them through this process. This page contains information about opportunities and support services available to forced migrant students.

If you have any questions about applying to UCL for undergraduate study, you are welcome to contact Jalal Pour and Michele Sahiri wp.pre16@ucl.ac.uk who are the pre-entry points of contact for forced migrant students: they can give you information and advice about the application process, or help you navigate UCL's admissions, support or funding services. 

On this page:

What do we mean by 'forced migrant'?

We use the term 'forced migrant' to mean one of the following: 

  • Refugee.
  • Asylum seeker.
  • Those who have been granted a temporary form of leave as the result of an asylum or human rights application (e.g. limited leave to remain, discretionary leave to remain, humanitarian protection, UASC leave).

Events and activities

We welcome forced migrant students who attend a UK state school or college to apply to any of our widening participation activities. Whether you want to have a taste of university life, get tips on the application process or learn more about the different subjects on offer, then make sure you submit an application to one of our programmes. Please also note our general entry criteria

Additionally, we do offer some activities specifically targeted at young people with a background of involuntary migration:

  • Experience UCL is an exciting opportunity for Year 12 or 13 students, currently studying at a UK state school or college, to visit UCL and learn about life as a student: you will have the opportunity to spend a day with two current undergraduate students, go on a tour of the campus, and seek advice from UCL staff on topics such as applying to university, support services available and financial support. Further details and the application form can be found on the Experience UCL webpage.

The UCAS application

UCAS has a section in the application where you can share more information about your circumstances with the university or college that you are applying to – including whether you are a refugee, asylum seeker or have limited leave to remain in the UK.  This information is treated confidentially and only shared with those responsible for arranging support and helping you with your application. Knowing about your circumstances may also help admissions staff to consider your achievements in context – it won’t reflect negatively on your application. This information won’t be used to set your fee status either – it is just there to make sure you get the right support. Further information can be found on this page in the “UCAS application” section.

UCAS has also worked with Student Action for Refugees (STAR) to create a personal statement guide with tips specifically for forced migrant students.

Financial support 

Eligible students who, due to their immigration status, are unable to access support from Student Finance can apply for our Access Opportunity Scholarships. For students starting their programme in 2023/24, these scholarships consist of tuition fees and a living allowance of £12,000 per year for the normal duration of the programme at UCL.  

Students with refugee status or humanitarian protection will generally be able to access Student Finance support, and therefore will not be eligible for the Access Opportunity Scholarships. However, these students may be eligible for the below support: 

In addition, the UCL Financial Assistance Fund is available to support current students who find themselves in financial difficulties. 

Please visit the UCL Student Funding page for information on all scholarships and funding options, and the UCL Student Fees page for information on fee status categorisation. If you want further information about which fee status category you may fall under, please consult the UKCISA website.

Pastoral support

UCL's Student Support and Wellbeing team provide a safe and non-judgemental space for you to discuss any issues which may be affecting your ability to study. The team offer drop-in sessions or longer appointments, where you can speak to advisors about any personal or emotional challenges you may be experiencing; mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression; or disability concerns (e.g. dyslexia or long-term health conditions).

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

If you do not have the necessary qualifications to apply directly to an undergraduate course, you may be interested in the UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate (UPC). There are currently two scholarships available to cover the full tuition fees for students living in the UK from forced migration backgrounds.  For more information and eligibility criteria please see the Bowman Scholarship webpage. 

Other sources of support

The below organisations also offer information and support to help forced migrant students to access higher education:

  • Bridging the Future is a charity that works with displaced young people, mentoring and inspiring them towards their educational and career pursuits. 
  • Coram Children's Legal Centre offers free legal information, useful fact sheets and email advice.
  • Displaced Student Opportunities UK is a comprehensive source of information about accessing higher education for people who are displaced in the UK.
  • Refugee Education UK provides a higher education advice service, via email, WhatsApp or phone. It also has a really useful Frequently Asked Questions resource, which has lots of information and advice about topics including fee categorisation, eligibility for student finance and funding opportunities. 
  • Student Action for Refugees has a comprehensive list of universities offering financial support to forced migrants on its website.
  • UCAS has a dedicated webpage with information and advice for forced migrant students, including guidance on using your experiences to enhance your personal statement.
  • UKCISA can help you understand more about tuition fee status as well as other issues related to immigration and education.