Let Us Learn – Young, Gifted and Blocked from Higher Education


If you've been through primary school and then secondary, the next logical step if you want to start on your academic career path would be university. But, many children of migrants are finding that because they were unaware of their immigration status, they are being denied student loans and their bright futures.

Students are being priced out of higher education because of their immigration status

Restrictions on Student Loans

The legal charity, Just for Kids Law, has mounted a challenge in the Supreme Court to help provide children who have settled in the UK but only have discretionary or limited leave, with student loans so they can go to university. Every year between 500 and 2,400 pupils are believed to be affected by restrictions imposed by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Only those with citizenship or indefinite leave to remain can borrow the full tuition amount of £9,000 a year. Students outside of this requirement are being treated like international students and charged up to £26,000 a year. For first generation immigrant parents who have jobs such as cleaners and taxi drivers, the price is unfathomable, leaving their children stuck in a rut unable to leave the country and unable to pursue their futures.

Emma Brooksbank - Associate, Head of Immigration (Leeds)Emma Brooksbank - Associate, Head of Immigration:

"The issue has become more significant in recent years as the Home Office have changed the immigration rules which has resulted in many children and young adults facing long periods of time without access to education. Students will only be considered home students and eligible for student finance to cover the cost of their education if they have indefinite leave to remain or British Citizenship."

"A number of years ago, people recognised as refugees and their families were given indefinite leave to remain straight away, they now have to wait five years with limited leave to remain before qualifying for indefinite leave to remain. People who are granted leave to remain in the UK, on the basis of their Article 8 (right to a private and family life) rights are now granted two and a half years leave to remain and must complete ten years leave to remain before being granted indefinite leave to remain."

"These changes in government policy mean that many more children and young adults are stranded with limited leave to remain, unable to continue with their studies. I have many clients who have come to the UK with their children. Their children have completed their primary and secondary education and have ended their education with good A Levels. They are now unable to go to university, even with an offer of a place, simply because it is too expensive. They may have to wait until they are in their late twenties before they can continue with their education."

"This is a waste of talent and another example of short sighted policy making by the current government. It cannot be acceptable that a group of young people are denied access to education simply as a result of their immigration status."

"I would like to see the Home Office change the rules relating to the period of time a child must wait before being granted indefinite leave to remain. I would also like to see Student Finance change the eligibility criteria for home student fees to include children and young people with limited leave to remain"

Prospective pupils don't even know about the restrictions they face until after they have submitted their applications to UCAS, the service that handles university place allocation or have applied for student support. This is not only disheartening but also discouraging as most face an uphill battle to attain citizenship or indefinite leave to remain in their own right due to the long waiting periods required.

The Benefits Far Outweigh the Cost

Research by the business department itself has already shown the immense benefit giving student loans would have for the national exchequer. In total, their contribution towards tax and national insurance was around £264,000 for men and £318,000 for women graduates in their average lifetime – this far out ways what they would be receiving in terms of student loans.

The Let Us Learn campaign, started by Chrisann Jarret who found out she too would not receive a student loan, aims to call for a change in the law that is preventing young ambitious people who are here lawfully from attending university. On Wednesday 24th of June, they took their campaign on the road to Parliament Square outside the Supreme Court to rally for change. They were joined by David Lammy, Dianne Abbot, Peter Kyle and Ruqa Huq, all Members of Parliament who gave speeches of support.

Education is a human right, but not if you are the child of a migrant. This needs to change so their education can benefit them and our economy.

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