Sanctuary scholarships

What are sanctuary scholarships?

Sanctuary scholarships are a financial support package for students who may have difficulty accessing home fees due to their immigration status. They are for any students living in the UK (however, priority is given to individuals living in the Plymouth area). Each Faculty offers one scholarship per year, meaning there are three scholarships available annually. Each scholarship includes:

  • a full fee-waiver for the entirety of the undergraduate course, 
  • £1000 per year toward study costs (for the first three years),
  • a fully-funded pre-sessional English course (to ensure scholars meet IELTS 6.0 requirements).

Who can apply?

To be eligible for the Sanctuary Scholarship you must fall into one of the following immigration status groups:

  • asylum seeker – a person who has made a claim in the UK for refugee status;
  • refugee status OR humanitarian protection without access to home fees and student finance;
  • a person who has limited leave to remain (formerly discretionary leave to remain) this could include, for example, unaccompanied asylum seeking children who have reached majority age;
  • the dependants of any of the above status groups in recognition that they are also from asylum-seeking or refugee backgrounds.

Any applicant residing in the UK can apply, however the University of Plymouth will give priority to applicants already residing in the Plymouth area.


Which course can I do?

Sanctuary scholarships are available on a full-time undergraduate courses with the following exclusions:

  • Medicine and Dentistry courses (unless you are already enrolled on a foundation year)
  • Any courses which include paid work placements/right to work checks,
  • Any courses which require overseas placements.

If the course you choose includes an optional work placement then you can still do this course as long as you are not paid for your placement (if 'right to work' checks need to be completed). If the optional placement is paid then you can still complete the course but cannot take part in the placement and this will not bear any impact on your overall grade.

Courses that are longer than three years (including a foundation course) will have fees waived, but the living bursary is only available for the first three years of study. All scholars will have access to other forms of financial support provided by the University the same as all other undergraduate students whether they are in recipient of the living bursary (for the first three years) or not (after three years).

What about previous qualifications?

Applicants must prove their competency to study on their selected course. This will not require proof of academic qualifications from their home country but will be assessed through the application process.

All successful applicants will be required to sit a 6-8 week pre-sessional English course at the University’s English Language Centre. There will be no cost for this course, however, it is a mandatory requirement of the scholarship.

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The process

January – February 2021

  • Applications open for the sanctuary scholarship scheme at 9am on Monday 4 January 2021. Applicants complete their application form, including a statement of support from a referee, and this must be emailed to equality@plymouth.ac.uk by 11:59pm on 28 February 2021.

March – April 2021

  • The assessment panel meet and decide which applications should be taken forward to the interview stage. You can view how the panel will come to their decision on our panel guidance notes.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will be given feedback on their application and invited to re-apply next academic year. Successful applicants will be invited to interview.

May 2021

  • Interviews will take place and all applicants invited to interview will be asked to provide a short presentation followed by questions from the panel.  You can view how the panel will come to their decision on our panel guidance notes.
  • The panel will decide which three applicants (one per Faculty) will receive the scholarship and the successful applicants will be informed.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will be given feedback on their application and invited to re-apply next academic year.

June – August 2021

  • All three sanctuary scholars will be enrolled in a six week pre-sessional English course (there is no cost for this).
  • Scholars will be invited to meet programme staff, wellbeing services and UPSU officers.
  • All legal documentation and admissions paperwork will be completed at this time.

September 2021

  • Living bursary payments will be made to all sanctuary scholars.
  • Sanctuary scholars will be invited to welcome week and induction week activities and begin their studies.

Support available

Sanctuary scholars will have access to all University support services the same as any other students and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team will also be able to offer specialist advice and support to sanctuary scholars alongside our usual services. Below is information on the support available to sanctuary scholars.  

Mental health support

Pastoral and spiritual support

  • Prayer space – whatever your faith, we have dedicated mutli-faith spaces for you to pray.
  • Faith advisors – dedicated faith advisors for Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and all other major faiths.
  • Student societies – you can join a faith and belief society to find other students just like yourself and make new friends.

Disability services

  • Disability disclosure – if you have a disability then you should let the team know so they can support you.
  • Advice and support – our dedicated Disability Services team will support you throughout your time here.
  • Non-medical helpers – specialist members of staff to support your learning.

Academic support