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Education: Asylum

Question for Department for Education

UIN 133859, tabled on 6 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to improve access to education for asylum seekers while awaiting the outcome of their applications.

Answered on

15 January 2021

Access to post-16 education for asylum seekers is governed by funding rules in further and higher education.

In further education, asylum seekers aged 19 and over who have lived in the UK for 6 months or longer while awaiting the outcome of their application, and no decision on their claim has been made, are eligible to receive funding through the Adult Education Budget. For asylum seekers aged 16-19, we will fund those who have applied for asylum as well as those who have been granted asylum status by the Home Office.

In higher education (HE), eligibility requirements for student support usually means that a student resident in England should have ‘settled’ status or a recognised connection with the UK and have been a resident of the UK and Islands for the 3 years prior to the first day of the first academic year of the course. However, an exception to the 3 year ordinary residence requirement is made for students with refugee status and humanitarian protection. This means that immediate access to HE student support is available once a person has been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection by the Home Office.

A considerable subsidy has been built into the student loan scheme, which is targeted to those who are likely to remain in England (or at least the UK) indefinitely, so that the general public benefits of their HE will be to the country’s advantage. There are no plans to extend eligibility to HE student finance to asylum seekers awaiting a Home Office decision on their claim as there is no guarantee that they will go on to be granted a relevant status.