Protect Asylum Seekers’ Right to an Education

Target: Mark Harper Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

Goal: Provide higher education to asylum seekers by waiving tuition fees until their status is resolved.

Around 2,000 unaccompanied children who have fled from their home countries from war and persecution apply for asylum in the United Kingdom each year. Many do well in their new schools, despite the challenges of learning a new language and differences in the educational system, and are encouraged to attend university. Obtaining a university education would help talented migrant youth to reach their full potential and transform their lives. Education provides people with increased opportunities to improve the quality of their lives and to contribute to society. Reaching educational goals gives students a sense of pride and influences the entire community with positive role models.

Receiving an education would especially make a difference in the lives of displaced persons having endured adversity. The experience of attending university can be empowering and healing for one who has suffered emotional trauma related to displacement, as social networks are established through mentors, other students, and professors, and one may find an increased ability to make meaning in their life.

Unfortunately, those seeking asylum in the United Kingdom are barred from education. The university policy in the United Kingdom treats asylum seekers as international students, and therefore expects them to pay higher annual tuition fees and denies them access to grants and loans. Asylum seekers are also not allowed to work and doing so illegally would jeopardize their status, so they have no other option available to pay for an education. Waiting to be granted asylum can take many years, leaving these people in limbo during a time in their lives that could be used for learning, establishing careers, and becoming integrated in their host country’s society.

Protect the rights of displaced persons to receive an education and transform their lives.  Please sign this petition to urge the the United Kingdom to have their universities waive tuition fees for asylum seekers until their status is resolved, and to offer vocational training and mentoring support.


Dear Mark Harper Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

It is unfair to place asylum seekers who did not have a choice but to study in the United Kingdom in the slot of international students once they apply to university. Asylum seekers do not have the economic means to pay the higher tuition fees of international students as they are not qualified for loans or grants and they are not allowed to work. By failing to provide asylum seekers with a possible path toward higher education, the government and universities are punishing prospective students who have often had to overcome traumatic experiences in order to achieve their goals. The current policy also clashes with the government’s encouragement to obtain high-level skills.

I urge your government to work with universities to waive tuition fees for asylum seekers until their status is resolved. With the obstacle of high tuitions removed, displaced persons will have less stress and can positively integrate in their host country and develop skills that will contribute to society. I also encourage the United Kingdom to have its institutions offer vocational training and mentoring support to asylum seekers who want to prepare for a career while they wait to be legally authorized to work. Protecting displaced persons’ human rights to access higher education in the UK will have far reaching benefits to all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: KICLondon via Flickr

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44 Signatures

  • Ellen McCann
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