If you are not a UK national, but have lived in England for a substantial period of your life you may be eligible for student finance and home fees in England under the ‘long residence’ category. This blog explains the story behind this eligibility category.
- Prior to 2015, many non-UK nationals needed ‘settled’ status – such as indefinite leave to remain – to be eligible for student finance and home fee status for universities in England. Many young people who had grown up in England faced a ten year wait before they would obtain ‘settled’ status and before they would be able to access student finance for university;
- The Let Us Learn campaign was established by Chrisann Jarrett with other young people who were facing this barrier. They wanted to raise awareness of the situation and to change policy to help other young people who were ‘Young, gifted and blocked’;
- One young woman – who was born in Zambia and brought to the UK when she was 6 years old – legally challenged the student finance rules. Many other young people supported this legal challenge as part of the Let Us Learn campaign. They provided their testimonies, demonstrated outside the Supreme Court and shared their stories publicly in the national media.
The Tigere Judgment and Interim Policy
- The Tigere judgment was handed down by the Supreme Court on 29th July 2015. In response to this, on September 16th 2015, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the interim policy for handling relevant applications for student finance in 2015-16 only;
- The Department of Health also announced an interim policy for handling relevant applications for NHS and social work bursary schemes;
- Many young people from the Let Us Learn campaign (for example Henry) who met the criteria in the policy accessed student finance for academic year 2015-16. This included students who had started their degrees prior to 2015-16 but who had met the criteria in the policy before they started their studies;
Academic Year 2016-17 (and onwards)
- On 2nd December 2015 BIS released a public consultation, Student support for non-UK nationals who have lived in the UK for a long time – consultation document. In this consultation BIS suggested several rules/criteria for a new policy that would take the place of the interim policy. These suggested rules were essentially the same as those in the interim policy but with some additional restrictions that could mean fewer young people would be eligible for student finance. This consultation closed on 8th January;
- Let Us Learn and Just for Kids Law – as well as many of the young people who are impacted – responded to this consultation and asked for more favourable criteria that would enable more young people to take up their places at university. Let Us Learn also met with BIS to discuss how the suggested rules would exclude many young people;
- On 26th April 2016, BIS responded to the consultation with New eligibility category for higher education student support – government response. The eligibility criteria in this response are very similar to those suggested in the original consultation document, with improvements for students aged 24 and over.
- As soon as the consultation response was released, students with live SFE applications for courses commencing in 2016 were told that the interim policy applies only to students starting before the 2016/17 academic year and that their application was on hold;
- On 16th May 2016 the The Education (Student Fees, Awards and Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 were amended and came into force on 6th June 2016;
- The process for applying for student finance for courses starting in academic year 2016-17 and beyond is different to the process for courses starting prior to 2016-17 under the interim policy. To read more about this process, see this blog here.