'I couldn't transfer my two years of training'

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The Independent Online

Martina Lalobo had been studying to become a doctor for two years when she and her family were forced to flee to Britain. They left Sudan because her father was suffering persecution for his religious beliefs. The family was granted asylum a year later.

But Ms Lalobo, who was 21 when she arrived in Britain, was unable to resume her studies. "There were two reasons," she said from her home in Hendon, north London. "Firstly I couldn't transfer the two years I had already done ... Secondly, I would have had to pay the rate for an overseas student, which was £45,000. I just couldn't afford it."

She eventually borrowed money from her boyfriend – now her husband – and set about learning secretarial and management skills. After four years of study, during which she worked full time, she obtained a BA honours degree in management. She is now a senior administrator at the Whittington campus of University College, London, responsible for looking after the courses of student doctors. She is alsostudying for a law degree and raising two children.

"I would definitely back up what the report is saying," Ms Lalobo, now 36, said. "A lot of the people are professionals and they would love to be able to pay back the country that has given them protection."