The following blog is written by Kimani Cooper, a young Let us Learn campaigner who helped coordinate a demonstration in support of a legal challenge to the student finance regulations. These regulations mean that many talented young people, who are lawfully resident in the UK, are unable to access a student loan and as a result are “Young, gifted and blocked!”.
On Wednesday 24th June 2015 I – along with many other frustrated students – stood in Parliament Square outside the Supreme Court entrance, in a show of solidarity with the fight to correct the injustice of being denied the right to an education.
The case being heard in the Supreme Court is about an aspirational young woman who is facing the same barrier as many others, including myself. After sitting A-level exams, she and we have found that we are unable to further our potential by completing university education because we are denied access to a student loan. Denial of the right to attend university is a gross oversight and on Wednesday we were able to show the Supreme Court that we should be treated the same as every other student in the UK.
Arriving at 8:50am, I stood shoulder to shoulder with other young people in the same situation as we stood up for our right to an education. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, and Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North – as well as Peter Kyle MP and Rupa Huq MP – showed their support for the campaign by attending and giving speeches encouraging Let Us Learners to continue with the fight. The primary purpose of the demonstration was to raise awareness of the case and in this aim we were definitely successful. The demonstration and the issue featured in multiple news outlets including national newspapers, radio and even television. Parliament Square was briefly filled with the sound of frustrated aspirational would-be students chanting “Let Us Learn” and “Young, gifted and blocked”
At 10:30am the demonstration was packed up as we went in to the court itself to show our support during the hearing. It was presented to the court that the taxes paid by a graduate over a lifetime far exceeds the funds invested in them with a student loan. These figures alone showed that denying us the ability to achieve our full potential in no way benefits British society. On the contrary, it only wastes the investment – financial and other – made at primary/secondary education.
Sitting inside the public gallery, listening to the court case, I felt hopeful as to the prospects of a favourable judgement and of the laws surrounding student finance to be changed.
By Kimani Cooper, 18 years old.