Mary* always knew she wanted to be a doctor. “When I was in school, I had everything planned out,” said the 20-year-old, who moved to the UK from Nigeria aged five. Huffington Post reports.
But after months of intense revision for her A Levels, the top-grade student discovered that her immigration status meant she was effectively barred from university.
Despite having lived in the UK for the vast majority of her life, Mary was told she would not be considered a home student because she had only been granted “limited leave to remain” in the UK the year before.
As a result, she would not only have to pay international student fees, often more than double the £9,250 British students are charged, but she would not be eligible for a loan – the only way she could afford university.
For young people brought to this country as children, it does not matter if every day of their education was spent in UK schools. Unless they have had limited leave to remain in the UK for three years before starting university, they are not considered ‘home’ students – a fact school-leavers often do not realise.
For many, the resulting financial burden is an insurmountable barrier to their dreams of university.
Labour MP David Lammy – who has been at the forefront of the Windrush Generation debate – said it was “inhumane and wrong to deny young people the opportunity to educate themselves and achieve their dreams.”
Meanwhile, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said “Some young people who have been here most of their lives and here perfectly legally are being treated as if they are overseas students,” she said. “This is simply unjust.”
Having waited two years to finally be recognised as a home student, Mary will be starting a chemistry degree at Warwick University in September. But she said the pressure of applying for the right documentation cannot be underestimated.Overseas
Have you or any of your students experienced this? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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