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Widening Access to and Participation in Further Education: Admissions and Enrolment Processes

To widen access and participation, it’s important to think about the specific barriers and challenges affecting students seeking sanctuary during these processes. In this short blog, we outline some ways to overcome these barriers and help students feel confident applying and enrolling in your colleges.

1. Develop a specific webpage for student seeking sanctuary

Often the biggest barrier to widening access to further education for people seeking sanctuary is simply making it known that they would be welcomed at your college, they can attend (some) courses for free and they will be supported at college. 

Developing a web page clearly specific to them is the best way of making this public and ensuring they have access to all the relevant information. This webpage should include a clear statement of support for welcoming students with forced migration backgrounds, information relating to the courses and financial aid they are eligible for, the documentation they will need to enroll and get any financial support, and any other opportunities or activities that might be particularly relevant to them.

To help colleges design a clear webpage, we have developed a webpage template.

It’s worth noting that we are hearing a worrying number of reports of students in the asylum process enrolling on courses they mistakenly believe will either be free to them, or for which they can find funding support and later getting into debt. We recommend that college websites make it clear how courses are funded and which courses are free to students in the asylum process, particularly those aged 19+. 

We also recommend clearly identifying a trained/specialised person or team at the college that students and/or their advocates can contact if they have any questions about eligibility.

2. Work in partnership with your local authority, local schools and refugee charities

Make sure that as many students seeking sanctuary are aware of your college’s offer and educational opportunities at your college by reaching out to your local authority, schools and refugee charities to share tailored flyers, run information sessions or offer to attend drop-ins where you can share information. It’s important not to rely on people seeking sanctuary just finding information about your college but proactively reaching out to them and raising awareness about your college’s commitment to welcoming and supporting those that have sought sanctuary.

This is also a good opportunity to consult these local partners about any barriers that people seeking sanctuary may experience enrolling in your college and discuss the best ways to overcome them.

3. Run a tailored open day and/or enrolment day for student seeking sanctuary

Having built a partnership with local referral organisations/institutions, organise an open day or enrolment day specifically tailored to students with forced migration backgrounds. During this day prospective students can feel confident that the enrolment staff are informed about and able to give accurate guidance on their eligibility for courses and the documentation they might need and to signpost them to additional financial aid. 

During this day make sure you also involve existing students with sanctuary seeking backgrounds who can welcome them to the college, share their experiences and support them through the enrolment process.

4. Review training for ALL staff

We can’t underestimate the impact of everyday initial interactions students might have with frontline staff in college in addition to their teachers and tutors. Make sure that whoever students meet, they are welcoming and understanding of any barriers they might face.

We encourage colleges to think about the training that not only teaching members but also security, office, site management and canteen staff receive to foster a culture of welcome. Relevant training may include focuses around anti-racism, equalities and protected characteristics, or unconscious bias, but we also strongly encourage specific training/information sharing around the experiences of students seeking sanctuary.

For more information or guidance about creating positive FE admissions and enrolment processes for students seeking sanctuary, see: