Refugee Council of Australia
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Barriers to education for people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas

Ineligibility for finance

Ineligibility for higher education financing programs

Unlike holders of permanent humanitarian visas, people seeking asylum (such as those on bridging visas) and refugees on temporary visas (such as those on a TPV or SHEV) are not eligible for Federal Government programs designed to assist students with financing tertiary study, including higher education loans schemes such as FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP and Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP).
Further, most people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas are unable to access concession rates for TAFE from states and territories. Without Government support, people are forced to pay international student rates to attend TAFE and university. The costs of these fees can be in the thousands of dollars effectively preventing them from furthering their education.

A handful of universities have started to provide scholarships to people seeking asylum on BVEs, including Monash University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, which will cover the entire cost of tuition. Canberra University, working with Companion House, has recently agreed to waive international fees for five recipient students who would instead pay 10 per cent less than domestic student course fees. Companion House is fundraising to pay these fees, equivalent to around $8,000 a year.


Further, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, through Victorian Government funding, provides 300 places for people seeking asylum to complete Vocational Education Training for courses up to a diploma level. However, many more people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas are likely to be interested in further education.


Many other universities provide smaller scholarships for which people seeking asylum are eligible, yet almost all of them do not cover the entire cost of tuition fees. Appendix A below outlines scholarships available to people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas. We highly encourage other education providers to consider offering scholarships to this group of people.

Recommendation 1

RCOA recommends that the Federal Government grant people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas access to Commonwealth Supported Places and the higher education loan scheme.

Recommendation 2

RCOA recommends that the State Governments grant people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas access concession rates for TAFE and other vocational courses.

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