Access to student finance for immigrants challenged in court

26 Jun 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A legal challenge has started against the Government’s policy of restricting student loans based on the applicant’s immigration status.

It’s believed up to 2,400 people are affected by the regulations every year, which prevent those with limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK from applying for a student loan.

People with citizenship or who have indefinite leave to remain are eligible for the finance.

The issue is affecting people who settled in the UK as young children and teenagers and who have been through the UK education system.

In a submission to the court, legal charity Just for Kids Law, said: “Many were not aware of their immigration status until they applied for student support. [They] would be the first in their family to attend university and face significant periods until they will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.”

The charity said it has been contacted by an “increasing” number of young people who have been unable to access finance to attend university, which has left many “deeply affected”.

The Coalition Government introduced the policy in 2011. Government lawyers said that university finance is only available to people considered to be “ordinarily resident” in the UK.

A number of Labour MPs are supporting the challenge, including former Universities Minister David Lammy.

He told The Guardian: “There’s no way that these young people, whose parents are first generation immigrants who are working as cleaners, drivers or security guards, can pay for these kind of fees of over £20,000.”

The challenge is also being backed by the Let Us Learn Campaign, started by Chrisann Jarrett, 20. Ms Jarrett came to the UK when she was eight but her immigration status prevented her taking out a student loan. Eventually she was able to attend LSE after receiving a scholarship.