Refugees and Post-16 Learning

This study explored the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in England and publicly-funded post-16 learning providers (excluding higher education) in delivering and accessing learning.

It found that some refugees and asylum seekers are being denied the post-16 education they are entitled to, because learning providers are confused about their entitlements and often do not have adequate processes in place to support them. While some good practice exists, the study found that colleges often do not recognise particular difficulties asylum seekers might face, such as being unfamiliar with the English education system, and problems providing proof of previous qualifications or identity documents due to their immigration status.

Interviews with refugees and asylum seekers found that while hardship funds and other sources of support were available in some colleges, lack of access to funds was a significant barrier in others, as was travel, and access to childcare and computers. Many who wanted to study and were eligible therefore missed out on courses that would enable them to speak English or gain qualifications that would help them secure employment.

The research report, A Lot To Learn, calls for clear guidance for learning providers and asylum seekers and refugees to explain their entitlements, training for staff on refugee issues and to ensure people can access support to help them continue their study.

The research was based on a survey of 70 post-16 learning providers from all regions in England, as well as interviews with 20 refugees and asylum seeker learners, and interviews with representatives from 10 learning providers.

Download the research report, A Lot to Learn, here.

Project details



Dr Lisa Doyle, Refugee Council

Grant amount and duration

1 January 2011 - 31 August 2011