Asylum Seeker and Refugee Students

Heriot-Watt is committed to supporting asylum seekers and refugees who are current or aspiring students. We acknowledge asylum seekers and refugees as one of our Widening Participation (WP) groups and recognise asylum seekers and refugees within our Fair Access Policy.

We welcome applications from asylum seekers and refugees and can offer guidance throughout the application and pre-entry process. If you have any questions before applying or during the application process, please contact  

You can let us know that you are an asylum seeker, refugee, or similar by declaring on enrolment; or at any stage of your studies by emailing We ask this so we can ensure you have access to available support. Any information you provide is dealt with confidentially.

Named Point of Contact

We offer a named point of contact who can provide guidance and support throughout your time at university:

All our students are also provided a Personal Tutor who is an academic member of staff that is a key point of contact for academic advice and guidance.

Preparing for University
  • Prospective students can find support writing your UCAS personal statement here.
  • Our Ask a Student Success Advisor system is a one-to-one email-based support service available to students who have either an Unconditional Firm (UF) or Conditional Firm (CF) offer of a place at Heriot-Watt. It is an opportunity to ask a Student Success Advisor by email any questions you may have before beginning University
  • We encourage you to participate in Get Ready for Success: a three-day event that takes place prior to Welcome Week which helps participants prepare for starting at Heriot-Watt.
Heriot-Watt Support and Resources
External Support and Resources

Additional External Support for Ukrainian refugees

To apply to university at undergraduate level you need to fill in an online application form through UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Most universities in the UK use this application system so you can apply to more than one degree and more than one university at a time. They have guidance for Ukrainian students on their website - Support for students from Ukraine | Undergraduate, Conservatoires | UCAS.

The Scottish government has announced a support package for Ukrainian students, which includes financial support for tuition fees and living costs. This is run by the Student Awards Agency Scotland - Eligibility is based on having applied for one of the following support schemes: -

Additional Information and Advice
The Scottish Refugee Council provide information and advice.

Terminology: Students We Support:

Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers have applied for refugee status. They are in the process of waiting for the results of their application for asylum which is determined by the UK government.


The United Nations defines a refugee as

‘someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion’

In the UK, a refugee is a person who has been legally recognised as a refugee according to the 1951 UN Convention. Refugees in the UK have largely the same rights and access to welfare and other economic and social provision as UK citizens; benefits, education, NHS, housing support, right to work.

Humanitarian Protection

A person granted Humanitarian Protection has been offered ‘humanitarian protection permission to stay’ in the UK for five years before they can then apply for indefinite leave to remain. A person under humanitarian protection in the UK largely has access to the same economic and social rights as a refugee with a few key differences regarding travel documents and protection of status.

Limited Leave to Remain/Discretionary Leave to Remain

Limited Leave to Remain or Discretionary Leave to remain applies to a person who has been given permission to stay in the UK for a limited or set period. This applies to a person who has applied for asylum, is a refugee, or under humanitarian protection.

Key information

Anna Skatun

Job title
Student Wellbeing and Transition Advisor