Court overturns ban on student loans for resident migrants

Beaurish Tigere was refused a loan despite living legally in the UK since the age of six

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The Independent Online

A lifeline has been offered to migrants who have been living legally in the UK for years but refused permission for a student loan to take up a university place.

The move follows the case of 26-year-old Beaurish Tigere, highlighted in The Independent, who was refused a loan to take up a place at Middlesex University to study for a business management degree – despite living legally in the UK since the age of six.

She was refused on the grounds she had only been granted “discretionary” status to remain in the UK even though she had arrived here with her parents from Zambia in 1995.

Beaurish had been head girl at her school in York and had obtained four good grade A-level passes.

The Supreme Court overturned the ruling – thus opening the door for her to take up her university place. 

However, the judges’ decision does not guarantee similar applicants for student loans being successful.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has now brought in new temporary regulations which will allow access to loans for would-be students who are ordinarily resident in the UK and have been throughout the three-year period prior to starting their course – even if they still have “discretionary” or “limited” status to remain in the UK.

The new interim measures will also cover those under the age of 18 who have been in the UK for at least seven years and those between 18 to 25 who have lived in the UK for half their life.

The Government is also planning a public consultation exercise in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling to bring in more permanent regulations.

Just for Kids, which supported Ms Tigere during her case, estimates there are hundreds of would-be students in a similar position.

The organisation said that “the changes that have been announced should benefit a significant number of people who are currently not able to get a student loan depending on their exact circumstances”.

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, who originally highlighted the issue in a letter to The Independent, added:  “We are pleased that the interim measures will widen opportunity for students who wish to go on to higher education.

“This is not, however, a  permanent solution and we at the NUT will be playing an active part in the public consultation for more permanent arrangements that will allow students of whatever background to fulfil their potential.”