The following blog was written by a young man who was born in Zambia and brought to the UK as a child. Despite living in the country for the majority of his life, in mid-2015 he discovered that, due to his immigration status, he would not be eligible for student finance for university. Here he describes his struggle to take up his place, and the key moments when he realised things were starting to change.
After completing my A-levels, my aim was to go straight to university to study my chosen degree. Even though I knew the challenges waiting ahead, I looked forward to becoming more independent, more mature and to working even harder to achieve my goals. With results day looming, I also knew that I needed student finance to pay my fees.
However, despite the fact that I have grown up in England for almost 12 years, since I was 8 years old, I was classified as ineligible for funding. This was because I have discretionary leave to remain in the UK and as such do not yet have ‘settled status’. This news no doubt crushed my dreams of going to university. But, in the back of my mind, I felt there had to be another way. Moreover, my mother took it upon herself to fight the student finance rules and, in doing so, she stumbled upon the organisation Just for Kids Law, and the Let Us Learn campaign.
I discovered that Just for Kids Law and Let Us Learn were working with many more young people in my situation and would be putting their cases to the Supreme Court, to challenge the student finance rules. When the day came for all of us hopeful students to attend the hearing, I sat anxiously in the court, listening to the final ruling. The decision was that the student in the case and many other young people with the same status as me should be granted funding. This great news overwhelmed everyone. It was a major step to changing the student finance rules and to giving people like me the chance to go to university.
Weeks went by as I waited for the changes to be applied. University began. I attended, knowing that my fees weren’t yet paid, but confident that something would happen soon. Then, one whole month into my first year of university, student finance finally contacted me. They asked where I was enrolled and what course I was studying. This immediately boosted my morale. I was sure I would now be able to attend university without the worry of unpaid fees in the back of my mind.
Then, in late October, my student loan was finally paid into my account. This brought me great joy. But it also made me realise that if it weren’t for Just for Kids Law and Let Us Learn fighting my case I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am currently enjoying university life, without the threat of unpaid fees, but most importantly wish that other young people in my situation have been given funding to start their own university careers.
By Henry Kasonde, age 19.