Further or higher education - student financial support for asylum seekers: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment

Child rights and wellbeing impact assessment (CRWIA) for the provision of support for young unaccompanied asylum seekers and children of asylum seekers wishing to undertake a course of further or higher education in Scotland.

CRWIA for the provision of support for Young Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers and Children of Asylum Seekers wishing to undertake a course of Further or Higher Education in Scotland

1. Brief Summary

To extend tuition fee support only to Young Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers and Children of Asylum Seekers who are resident in Scotland on the relevant date and were under the age of 18 on the date when the application for asylum was made.

This contributes to the following national outcomes:

  • We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society
  • We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination

A provision already exists in both the Education (Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 and the Student Support (Scotland) Regulations 2022 (together, “the 2022 Regulations”) to support this cohort of students but was specifically restricted to those students whose applications for asylum had been made prior to 1st December 2006. This exception was introduced at a time when the Home Office acknowledged an excessive backlog of asylum claims waiting to be heard and was introduced across the four UK nations. Although there has been no official acknowledgement of a backlog by the Home Office at this time, through recent stakeholder engagement including speaking to a small number of students who had recent experience of the application timescales, it would appear that students - particularly young accompanied asylum seekers - can be waiting a significant period of time for a decision to be made.

Currently Young Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers and Children of Asylum Seekers can undertake courses of further or higher education, but would typically be considered as international students by institutions for the purposes of fee assessments. There does exist an Asylum Scholarship scheme among some of the Universities (Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews) to allow Asylum Seekers to access higher education and there is no current barrier to institutions in both further or higher education providing fee waivers for these students, other than the financial impact of not receiving Scottish Government funding for the places they may choose to offer.

Start date of relevant proposal: August 2023

Start date of CRWIA process: April 2023

2. Which aspects of the relevant proposal currently affects or will affect children and young people up to the age of 18?

All aspects as it specifically relates to those seeking asylum under the age of 18 years or children of asylum seekers.

3. Which groups of children and young people are currently or will be affected by the relevant proposal?

Young Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers and Children of Asylum Seekers who wish to undertake a course of Further or Higher Education in Scotland.

4. Declaration

Is a Stage 2 Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment required? (Tick relevant requirement) (Guidance Section 2.1)

CRWIA required No explanation required, please complete questions 5 and 6

5. Sign & Date

Policy Lead Signature & Date of Sign Off:

Nicola Nisbet 27/04/2023

CRWIA author, if different from policy lead, Signature & Date of Sign Off: as above

Deputy Director Signature & Date of Sign Off: Catherine Topley 25/05/2023

Date SGLD contacted: 03/05/2023

6. Preparation Phase if undertaking a CRWIA

Evidence / Stakeholder Engagement / Research:

The Scottish Government carried out a public consultation using the Citizen Space website: Scottish Government consultation - changes to student support residency criteria.

Relevant sector stakeholders were identified and invited to respond to the consultation and meet with Scottish Government officials. It should be noted that identifying potential students affected by this change has been extremely challenging. Though anecdotally it is clear that these students exist from correspondence received by the Scottish Government and applications made to the Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), the data on asylum seekers is provided by the Home Office on a UK wide level (Asylum and resettlement datasets - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) and is not readily available broken down by those asylum seekers resident in Scotland.

Within this consultation the Scottish Government posed the following question: “Should financial support beyond support already given through discretionary funds be extended to students who are currently ordinarily resident in Scotland and have sought asylum from the UK Home Office, but whose application is still pending?”

Of 131 respondents, 57 answered Yes, 50 answered No, 20 answered Don’t Know, and 4 did not answer. Whilst there was not overwhelming support for an extension from this one question, there was detailed evidence from relevant stakeholder groups, previously impacted students on the barriers faced for young unaccompanied asylum seekers, children of asylum seekers in continuing with their learner journey post- secondary education should their claim still be awaiting a decision.

Their evidence highlighted, that the students in question are in a particularly vulnerable point in their lives. These students will have had significant breaks in their education already and will reach the further or higher education stage only to have to freeze in place, potentially for multiple years, at a time when what they are allowed to do is significantly curtailed. Those students who are continuing on from secondary education in Scotland as a result of this change will benefit from having parity with their peers in accessing home fee places.


Email: SFS_Policy@gov.scot

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