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The Compass Project Sanctuary Scholarship

Birkbeck's Sanctuary Scholarships are part of the Compass Project. The Compass Sanctuary Scholarship provides a stepping stone into higher education for people from a forced migrant background and offers an opportunity to study a university-level programme at Birkbeck. 

Birkbeck is committed to supporting those who have taken a less traditional route into higher education and this scholarship is aimed at helping those who may face difficulty in accessing other educational opportunities due to lack of previous academic documentation, or for those who have been out of education for a long period of time. The qualification gained through receipt of the Compass Project Scholarship may then be used for further study.

The scholarship

Birkbeck sponsors 20 students a year under the Sanctuary Scholarship Programme. Students may apply for funding for either an undergraduate or postgraduate course at Birkbeck. It is a competitive scholarship and we do receive more applications than available places.

Successful applicants will receive: 

  • a full tuition fee waiver for relevant courses up to 120 credits (equivalent to one year of full-time study on undergraduate programmes) or 180 credits for Master's programmes
  • additional financial support to cover costs such as transport, childcare and books
  • please note that the scholarship does not include accommodation.


The Compass Project offers opportunities to those who would not otherwise be able to access university-level education elsewhere. We therefore prioritise applicants who meet the following criteria:

  • those who have not previously studied a degree at a UK institution
  • those who have been out of formal education (including secondary education) for more than five years.

In addition to this you must have the following: 

  • you must be a person who is currently seeking asylum in the UK or hold one of the following statuses as a result of asylum claim: Limited Leave to Remain or Discretionary Leave to Remain
  • you must be resident in the UK
  • you must be not be eligible to receive student finance
  • you have applied to and been offered a place on a Birkbeck course.

Eligibility course types

We typically offer scholarships for the following types of degree programmes which can be taken as either part-time or full-time:

  • Certificate of Higher Education (120 credits)
  • Foundation Year (120 credits)
  • First year of an undergraduate programme (90-120 credits)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (60-120 credits)
  • Master's programme (180 credits)

Please note that we award scholarships for three Master's programmes every year. Degree programmes will typically start in October. 

How to apply

Please note that applications are now closed for 2021. Scholarship applications will reopen in spring 2022 for application for the academic year starting in autumn 2022.

If you wish to be kept updated about the scholarship and activities leading up to next year’s application process, you can register to receive regular email updates.

In order to apply for the Compass Project Sanctuary Scholarship, you must engage with the pre-application content that sits on the Access and Engagement Moodle site, specifically the tiles titled 'Studying at University' and 'The Compass Project'.

Moodle is an online learning platform used by Birkbeck and many other universities. To access the site, you will need to login as a guest via the option on the login page. Once you are logged in, you will see an array of tiles under ‘Get Started: Access and Engagement’ module. Please allow plenty of time to watch the videos and read the advice on this site as they contain important information. 

If you are supporting someone with their application to the scholarship, please take them through the content on the Moodle site before starting the application. 

When you are ready to apply, you will find a link to the application on the Moodle site under the ‘Compass Project’ tile.

Application dates

Contact us

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