Young people who have been denied access to student loans due to their immigration status may now be able to apply for the finance following a landmark court ruling.
The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Zambia-born Beaurish Tigere, who took legal action after she was told she was not eligible for a student loan due to her discretionary leave to remain in the UK status.
Ms Tigere, 20, has been in the UK since she was six, attended school in York, where she became head girl, and was offered a place at Northumbria University in Newcastle after obtaining three A-levels.
The Supreme Court said that stopping anyone who was not a UK citizen or who did not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK from applying for the finance could not be justified, and was disproportionate.
Lady Hale, deputy president of the court, said: “The numbers affected are not insignificant but a tiny proportion of the student loans which are made every year ... These young people will find it hard to understand why they are allowed access to all the public services, including cash welfare benefits, but are denied access to this one benefit which is a repayable loan.”
She also suggested that it may be better to regularise immigrants’ ordinary residence status after three years rather than after the 10 years it currently takes.
Ms Tigere’s lawyer Paul Heron described her as a “talented and brave individual” who was a “credit to the school system in the UK”, and who had “worked hard to obtain excellent grades”.
He added: “The court’s decision will now allow her and hundreds of other students unfairly excluded from higher education the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”