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Are Ukrainian students eligible to pay ‘home’ fees and receive student finance?

Students granted leave under the Ukraine schemes are eligible for home fee status and student support if they are studying an approved course at an approved higher education provider in the UK. Certain family members of those granted leave under the Ukraine Schemes in England and Wales are also eligible for home fee status, tuition fee loans, and maintenance support.

For more information on eligibility for home student status, see the relevant Commons Library casework article on England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland, and the website of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), which provides information on fees and funding. UKCISA also has a dedicated student advice helpline for discussing individual circumstances.

What student finance might Ukrainian students be entitled to?

Eligible students from Ukraine in the UK under the Ukraine schemes may be entitled to a range of support including free tuition, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans, grants, and/or bursaries, and additional allowances related to their individual circumstances, for example if they have a disability.

The nature and amount of student support available depends on the level of qualification being studied, a student’s personal circumstances, and the part of the UK in which they are studying. Students should consult the website of the respective student finance body for where they ordinarily reside:

See also the Commons Library casework article Financial support for higher education students.

Can Ukrainian students extend their leave to remain under the Ukraine schemes?

Currently, Ukrainians with three years’ permission under the Ukraine schemes will be expected to leave the UK at the end of the three years unless they apply for another type of visa before then. The UK Government has said it is considering whether to extend leave to remain under the schemes beyond three years, and has committed to informing people of any arrangements “at least 12 months ahead” of when their visa will expire (the first Ukraine scheme visas will begin to expire in March 2025).

Students, or prospective students, whose study would extend beyond their three-year Ukraine scheme visa, can apply for a student visa to extend their leave to remain in the UK for the duration of their course. More information can be found in the Immigration Rules.

Applying for leave to remain as a student may mean such persons become liable to pay international tuition fees and lose access to student support. In England, however, the Government has confirmed students who start a course, and who are granted some kind of further leave to remain when their Ukraine scheme leave expires, will retain their eligibility for home fee status and student support for the duration of their course.

While visas through the Ukraine schemes are free, a student visa currently costs £490, and applicants must also pay the healthcare surcharge. Switching to a student visa may allow students subsequently to qualify for a Graduate visa. This is not currently an option following study on a Ukraine scheme visa.

What university scholarships and hardship funds are available?

The Student Action for Refugees (STAR) group has a list of over 80 universities in the UK that offer scholarships for students who are seeking asylum or from a refugee background. Some of these may be open to Ukrainian nationals previously studying in Ukraine. See also the STAR page Information for students affected by the invasion of Ukraine.

Many higher education providers have set up scholarships for new students from Ukraine and hardship funds for students affected by the Ukraine war. Students should contact their university’s student advice/welfare service, which can advise on a range of issues including housing, benefits, and money.

Is there support for Ukrainian students continuing courses online from the UK?

Ukrainian students studying at Ukrainian institutions remotely from the UK are not eligible for student finance. This reflects the rule that most British students are similarly unable to access maintenance support when studying via distance learning in the UK. Like their peers at UK universities, unless they are studying part time or meet the exemption criteria, Ukrainians studying remotely cannot claim Universal Credit either.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has raised concerns with the Department for Work and Pensions about the number of Ukrainian students continuing courses remotely with limited assistance. In November 2022, it said it was aware of Jobcentre Plus offices “in some cases applying ‘work-arounds’ such as treating courses as part-time.”

The Department for Education has said students should speak with their university in Ukraine to understand what support might be available to them for continuing their studies, such as through the UK twinning programme (see below for more information).

Are Ukrainian students eligible for benefits?

Most full-time students are not eligible to claim Universal Credit, but there are some exceptions. Students may qualify for disability-related benefits and financial support.

Students who want to check what benefit support they may be eligible for should seek advice from a professional welfare specialist. Welfare rights advisers can be found using the postcode finder on the Advice Local website.

If students are having problems claiming Universal Credit, they can contact the confidential Citizens Advice Help to Claim service.

What support has the Government made available to universities?

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Office for Students, which regulates higher education in England, has distributed over £4 million to support English higher education providers. Providers can use this funding to support Ukrainian nationals and Ukrainian-domiciled students who have been financially affected by events in Ukraine.

The UK Government has also announced a series of measures to support Ukraine’s science & technology and research sectors, and backed the  Researchers at Risk Fellowship scheme, which was launched in spring 2022 by the British Academy and the Council for at-Risk Academics.

What is the UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative?

Backed by the UK Government, Universities UK International and Cormack Consultancy Group have established a “twinning” programme whereby UK universities partner directly with Ukrainian institutions for a minimum of five years.

A Universities UK press release from 18 August 2022 set out the scope of the scheme. It includes:

  • Mutually recognising credits so English-speaking Ukrainian students can take online courses from UK universities that count towards their final degree.
  • Sharing mental health support, particularly for Ukrainian staff and students suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the conflict.
  • Allowing Ukrainian students to ‘catch-up’ on the learning they have missed at summer schools hosted in UK institutions.

More information is available on the Twinning Ukraine website, including a full list of Ukraine-United Kingdom partnerships and the first annual Twinning Ukraine report for 2022-23.

What wellbeing support is available?

The following organisations offer free mental health and well-being support for students:

  • Student Mindshas information about support programmes and services that may be available to students at university.
  • Young Mindshas resources to support students and their mental health. Support can be accessed 24 hours a day via the Young Minds Crisis Messenger.

The Barnardo’s Ukrainian Support Helpline can also provide access to therapy with qualified psychotherapists.

Are Ukrainian qualifications recognised in the UK?

Higher education providers are autonomous bodies responsible for their admissions policies, but the Department for Education has told providers to be “as flexible as possible” when considering the applications of Ukrainian students.

The UK European Network for Information (ENIC) offers a ‘Statement Of Comparability’ for people who need to confirm the level of their overseas qualifications for employment, study, professional registration, or another reason. Individuals and organisations can apply online for a Statement of Comparability through the UK ENIC portal.

There is a charge to individuals for a Statement of Comparability, but reduced-price bundles are available for charities supporting refugees, including refugees from Ukraine. Individuals or organisations should contact UK ENIC at bundles@enic.org.uk or refugee@ecctis.com for more information on how these work and what charities are included.

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