Help for refugees and asylum seekers to understand their rights
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Education for all ages

We understand that refugees and asylum seekers often want to improve their education whilst they are here. The Welsh Government supports this by ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers can access education.  This will help you to fulfil your potential and is one of the priorities in our Nation of Sanctuary plan. This section of the website explains the education system in Wales and who is eligible for support.

Education is free in local authority managed schools in Wales. Parents and carers have a legal duty to make sure their children attend school. It is a criminal offence to keep your children away from school for no reason. You can register your child for school with your local authority. Find out more on the Your Local Area page. Education in Wales may be delivered by English or Welsh language. Children can attend Welsh Language schools, known as 'Welsh medium' schools. Children can also attend clubs like Urdd or Menter Iaith. All children in Wales have the opportunity to learn some Welsh, even in an English medium school. 

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 will attend primary school. Between 11 and 16 children will attend secondary or high school. At the end of secondary school, children will sit GCSE exams. There is a lot of support available in Welsh schools. These include support for newly arrived children who are learning English or Welsh as a second language. School-based counsellors are available to help children who may be upset, worried or confused. Free breakfast and lunch options are often available in schools. If you live far enough away from school, free school transport may be provided. Children are able to leave school at age 16 but Further Education is strongly encouraged. There are a range of options for Further Education study. These include college and apprenticeships. Often enrolling at University will involve previous study at a college.

You must be prepared to travel to take your children to school if there is no space in the schools in your local area. Children at primary school get free home to school transport if they live 2 miles or more from the nearest suitable school. Children at secondary school get free transport if they live 3 miles or more from the nearest suitable school. The local authority decides what is the nearest suitable school based on the child’s age, ability and availability of school places.

Education in Wales may be delivered through English or Welsh language and there are both English and Welsh language schools in Wales.

It is a criminal offence to keep your children away from school for no reason. In the United Kingdom you have a legal duty to ensure that your children attend school up to the age of 16.

ESOL

The Welsh Government also funds ‘English for Speakers of Other Languages’ (ESOL) courses. These are set up to help adult refugees and asylum seekers to learn English. These courses are often free and can be delivered in many areas across Wales.    Many refugees and asylum seekers may have never heard the Welsh language before arriving. Learning Welsh can provide job opportunities in the future. Many public services must be delivered in the Welsh language. The Welsh Government funds optional support for your child’s early years. When a child reaches their third birthday they are eligible for free part-time nursery care. The Flying Start service offers childcare, heath support, parenting support and language support.

Accordion
Title
Adults seeking asylum – awaiting a decision
Body

Most of the education support mentioned on this page is available to asylum seekers. Early Years support and primary and secondary school education is available to all asylum seekers for free. Where breakfast clubs are available, these are free to asylum seekers. Free school meals are available to most asylum seekers awaiting a decision. You must apply to your local authority for this funding to be provided. Find out more on the Your Local Area page.

ESOL courses are free to asylum seekers in Wales. You can find further details about courses in your area on the Your Local Area page.

Attending Further Education courses can be expensive. Costs include uniform, transport to attend classes, stationery and other living costs. Refugees can access Welsh Government grants to help with these costs. These include the ‘Education Maintenance Allowance’ and the ‘Financial Contingency Fund’. These are not yet available to asylum seekers. The Welsh Government has committed to exploring ways for asylum seekers to be eligible for these grants in our Nation of Sanctuary plan. Attending Higher Education or University courses can be very expensive. Costs include tuition fees, living costs, transport to attend lectures and stationery. Refugees can access loans to cover these costs through Student Finance Wales but these are not yet available to asylum seekers. The Welsh Government has committed to exploring ways for asylum seekers to be eligible for these loans in our Nation of Sanctuary plan.

Some Universities offer funded placements for asylum seekers or have student support groups. You can find further details about universities in your area on the Your Local Area page.

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Young asylum seekers
Body

Where you are ‘looked after’ by the local authority you may be able to get more support with your education plans. Unaccompanied young people seeking asylum have the same rights to education as any other asylum seeking young person. Those who are looked after can also receive funding towards Further and Higher Education from the local authority. If you have been looked after for 13 weeks before you are 18, your local authority can continue to support you as you become an adult, if you would like this. Your social worker will work with you to prepare a Pathway Plan, which may include support to access Further or Higher Education. The Welsh Government has produced extra information for unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

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Granted refugee status
Body

Once you have been granted refugee status in Wales, you will have the same rights to education and support as any British citizen. This means that you may be able to access grants and loans which make attendance at Further and Higher Education easier. Learners aged 19 and under will not have to pay for tuition at college.  Some colleges may ask learners to pay a small registration or administration fee when you first enrol. Depending on where you live and how far you have to travel, learners may get help to travel to college.  Most colleges offer some form of subsidised transport for learners aged 19 and under and many have dedicated college buses.   

Adult learners will usually have to pay some form of tuition fee. This is not the case if you are following a course in basic skills (literacy and numeracy) or are accessing ESOL courses.  Colleges are not allowed to charge learners for this provision.

The ‘Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)’is available for 16-18 year olds who want to continue education after leaving school. In order to be eligible you must meet certain criteria in relation to age, type of course, household income and residency in Wales. The EMA is a weekly allowance of £30 and is paid every two weeks directly into your bank account.

Learners aged 19 years or over may be eligible for a ‘Welsh Government Learning Grant Further Education (WGLG (FE))’of up to £1,500. Payment of this grant depends on the learner’s age, course, household income and residency in Wales. Young people and adults may be eligible for hardship funds if attending a further education college in Wales. The funding is known as the Financial Contingency Fund (Further Education) (Wales) Scheme. Colleges may also offer funded places for refugees.

Most Welsh universities charge tuition fees of up to £9,250.Loans are available to cover costs of tuition fees and living expenses. Refugees are able to access loans in the same way as UK nationals. 

ReStart

The ReStart: Refugee Integration project aims to deliver support for refugees who want to learn English. The service is available in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham.  Refugees should have a holistic assessment of their language needs to enhance their efforts to integrate into society.

The Integration Centre

The Integration Centre is an advice and drop-in service for refugees in the locations of Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham. It undertakes assessments of refugees’ needs for language tuition, job skills and other skills training.  A caseworker or mentor will maintain regular contact with you and help you progress over time.

If refugees accessing the service need language support, the Integration Centre refers them to the ESOL Hub.

If you need help with finding a job, the integration centre can connect you with schemes such as Communities4Work and also help with a CV. The Integration Centre also works with the National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC).  The NARIC helps getting qualifications and skills from your country of origin recognised in the Wales.  The Integration Centre also operates a ‘Barriers Fund’ which ensures that the service can meet the specific needs of service users.

The Integration Centre aspect of the project can provide support for refugees only.

ESOL Hubs

The Welsh Government has funded the development of REACH (Regional ESOL Assesment Central Hub). The service aims to improve language skill levels and provide a database of ESOL classes. . The ReStart project has also introduced this service in Swansea, Newport and Wrexham.

The service is provided by :

Cardiff and Vale College

City Centre Campus, Dumballs Rd, Cardiff CF10 5FE

Adult Learning Wales

 7 Coopers Yard, Cardiff, CF10 5NB

Gower College (Swansea)

Belgrave Rd, Gorseinon, Swansea SA4 6RD

Coleg Gwent (Newport)

Nash Rd, Newport NP19 4TS

Newport Council

Civic Centre, Godfrey Road

Coleg Cambria (Wrexham)

Kelsterton Road, Connah’s
Quay, Deeside, Flintshire
CH5 4BR.

 

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Refused asylum seekers
Body

All children in Wales have the right to free primary and secondary school education. It does not matter if their parents’ asylum application has been refused. Access to free breakfast clubs is also available to you. Free school meals may be available but your local authority will make this decision. You must apply to your local authority for this funding to be provided. Find out more on the ‘Your Local Area page.

ESOL courses are free to refused asylum seekers in Wales. You can find further details about courses in your area on the Your Local Area page.

If you have been refused asylum, the UK Government may decide that you do not have the right to attend Further or Higher Education in the UK. If this decision has been made you will not be able to enrol on a course. If you are still able to attend classes, you will not be able to access any Welsh Government funding schemes. 

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Resettled refugee
Body

Once you have been resettled in Wales, you will have the same rights to education and support as anyone born or brought up in the United Kingdom. This means that you may be able to access grants and loans which make attendance at Further and Higher Education easier.

Learners aged 19 will not have to pay for tuition at college.  Some colleges may ask learners to pay a small registration or administration fee when you first enrol. Depending on where you live and how far you have to travel, learners may get help to travel to college.  Most colleges offer some form of subsidised transport for learners aged 19 and under and many have dedicated college buses.   

Adult learners will usually have to pay some form of tuition fee. This is not the case if you are following a course in basic skills (literacy and numeracy) or are accessing ESOL courses.  Colleges are not allowed to charge learners for this provision.

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is available for 16-18 year olds who want to continue education after leaving school. In order to be eligible you must meet certain criteria in relation to age, type of course, household income and residency in Wales. The EMA is a weekly allowance of £30 and is paid every two weeks directly into your bank account.

Learners aged 19 years or over may be eligible for a Welsh Government Learning Grant Further Education (WGLG (FE)) of up to £1,500. Payment of this grant depends on the learner’s age, course, household income and residency in Wales. Young people and adults may be eligible for hardship funds if attending a further education college in Wales. The funding is known as the Financial Contingency Fund (Further Education) (Wales) Scheme. Colleges may also offer their own discretionary bursaries and scholarships.

Most Welsh universities charge tuition fees of up to £9,250.Loans are available to cover costs of tuition fees and living expenses.Refugees are able to access loans in the same way as UK nationals.