Asylum seeker caught in fees 'no man's land'

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The Independent Online

A brilliant student is in danger of losing a place at Cambridge University after being caught in "no man's land" over funding for his course.

Eighteen-year-old asylum seeker Angel Versetti, pictured, is predicted to be one of the few students in the UK to get top marks in his International Baccalaureate.

As a result the student at Brockenhurst College in Hampshire has won a provisional place to study Land Economy at Cambridge's Selwyn College this autumn.

But Mr Versetti, who fled alleged persecution in Russia, has been told he will not qualify for a loan as a home student as he has no refugee status, and he does not qualify for a scholarship sponsored by a bank because he is not classified as an overseas student.

He said he was told: "You are presenting yourself as an overseas student but you are not an overseas student. You are not a home student and therefore you have to pay overseas students' fees."

Cambridge, which has been in touch with the Home Office to urge a speedy decision on his asylum claim, said it could not determine his status.

The student left Moscow with his mother three years ago, when he said he was facing persecution because people believed he was Chechen because of his looks. He is not.

"With no status, no employment and no education, I will be just another ghost-person in this country with no future,"he said. He is predicted to score 45 points in his IB – the highest possible tally. His college lecturer described him as "exceptional".

Only one in every 1,000 of those students who take the International Baccalaureate worldwide manage to score a perfect 45 points in the test, according to the latest figures.