LLB students help hundreds of UK-educated young people regain their right to student finance
29 July 2015
UCL Laws students working with the award-winning charity Just for Kids Law have supported the successful intervention into an appeal case at the Supreme Court that could affect the lives of hundreds of young people in the UK.
The intervention by Just for Kids Law on behalf of the Let us Learn campaign in the R (Tigere) v Sec State for Business Innovation and Skills, was part of a legal challenge to the regulations for student finance that barred certain students from applying for support because of their immigration status, despite the fact that they are lawfully resident in the UK.
In the judgment announced today, the Supreme Court ruled that a blanket ban on students without ‘indefinite leave to remain’ (ILR) in the UK, or British citizenship, from receiving student loans, regardless of how long they had lived here or their ties to the country, was disproportionate and could not be justified.
As part of the intervention, LLB students on the Access to Justice and Community Engagement module helped to research and gather evidence for the case. Working under the supervision of UCL Centre for Access to Justice Teaching Fellow and senior education Solicitor at Just for Kids Law, Rachel Knowles – who also led the intervention by Just for Kids Law – the students researched and summarised relevant policy research and put together a case study of evidence of other students in a similar position.
By participating in the intervention, UCL Laws students have been able to take advantage of a unique learning experience and put the theoretical knowledge learnt through their studies to practical use.
Commenting on the students’ involvement, Shiva Riahi, the manager of UCL Centre for Access to Justice said: “On the course we discuss the importance and significance of strategic litigation and ‘cause lawyering’. For students to see and be involved with firsthand how strategic litigation can make an impact on the lives of individuals is a hugely valuable experience. The work by Just for Kids ties directly into the learning objectives of the course.”
The background to the appeal
In 2011, the criteria students needed to meet to receive student finance was changed by the government, meaning that young people who had been granted ‘discretionary leave to remain’ (DLR), or ‘limited leave to remain’ (LLR), were no longer eligible for a student loan. Universities could also charge these students the same fees as international students, which can be as much as £26,000 per year, depending on the degree programme. Under the these regulations, DLR or LLR students were only eligible for student finance once they have been granted ILR, a process that if successful, can take at least ten years to complete.
For many young people who have worked hard to achieve the highest grades at A-Level, often in the face of difficult circumstances, the change to student finance regulations meant that attending to university was no longer an option. A lack of awareness of the change in the law amongst young people, their teachers, and even local authorities and universities, has caused further problems as a number of students have been given incorrect advice.
One student affected by this situation and who was supported by Just for Kids Law, Chrisann Jarrett, established the Let us Learn campaign in 2014 to help raise awareness of the situation and call for a change in the law.