Not being able to join your friends as they go to university is tough, not being able to get necessary qualifications, is unacceptable

The 13th of August proved to be a huge day for individuals obtaining their A-level results. Acceptances reached an all-time high, increasing by 3 per cent in comparison to last year.

In addition to these celebrations, a recent decision by the UK Supreme Court in relation to student loans has also given reasons for even more joy.

The Court reached a landmark decision late last month in overturning a ban on individuals with immigrant status obtaining a student loan.

Appellant Beurish Tigere – in obtaining three strong A-Level grades during sixth-form – was granted a place at Northumbria University to read international business management. However, she was denied a loan on the basis of her immigrant status. Despite moving to the UK from Zambia when she was six, the government considered her immigration status to not entitle her to any grant normally afforded to British citizens via student finance, having national universities charge her international fees.

The Court allowed her appeal and found the criteria for obtaining student finance to be ‘unjustified and discriminatory restrictions on her right to education under both article 2 of the First Protocol and article 14 [prohibition of discrimination]’.

As I sat in on the appeal, it was clear from the sheer amount of young people witnessing the decision how acutely aware they were of the effects of this verdict on their lives.

In an interview with the Guardian, 20-year-old Emmanuel Opuku mentioned he has been offered a place at Imperial College in London to read Chemistry. He was told he would have to pay £26,000 to take up his place without financial support from the government. ‘I have had to go on two gap years’, he said. ‘This campaign shows that we have had some effect’.

Alison East, speaking on behalf of third party representative Just for Kids Law, described the impact upon people like Emmanuel: ‘Our experience suggests that young people find not being able to go to university, when that would be a natural educational progression alongside their peers, incredibly difficult. They have worked hard to do well at school and at college, and aspire to achieve the best they can. Seeing their friends and peers go to university when they cannot, and being aware of being held back for as long as ten years in pursuing qualifications that are essential in a competitive job market, inevitably causes these young people to feel marginalised’.

It is currently unclear as to when this decision will be practically enforced; however, the mere apprehension and promise of change is certainly good news for those affected.

 

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/aug/13/record-number-university-admissions-cap-a-levels

https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2014-0255-judgment.pdf

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/29/immigration-student-loan-supreme-court-beaurish-tigere