The Supreme Court is due to hear a legal challenge this week brought by an ambitious young woman who is blocked from going to university because of her immigration status, despite having lived in the UK since she was six and being lawfully resident here. She is former head girl at her school and has four good A-levels.
She is challenging the Student Finance Regulations under which people with what is known as “discretionary” or “limited leave to remain” in the UK are no longer eligible for a student loan. Because of this little-noticed legal change, made in 2012, universities now treat these applicants as overseas students, and charge them fees several times higher than the maximum of £9,000 paid by home students.
One young man with three A-grade A-levels was unable to take up a place at Imperial College to study chemistry, because he couldn’t afford the £26,000-a-year fees. Sadly, there are many similar examples.
It cannot be right that young people who have lived in this country lawfully and been educated here most of their lives are being denied a university education and the chance to better themselves. They have done everything demanded of them, by studying hard at school and getting good qualifications, only to be denied a place at university through no fault of their own.
We urge the Government to resolve this issue as a matter of urgency in the interests of fairness and social cohesion. It is a clear block on social mobility.
General Secretary National Union of Teachers London WC1