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Court rules in favour of student who was refused a student loan due to immigration status

Related Member(s):
Helen Mountfield QC, Raj Desai
Related Practice Area(s):
Discrimination and Equality, Education Law, Immigration, Asylum and Free Movement
Court:

The claimant, an 18 year Zambian national, was brought to the UK when she was six years old and lived here ever since. Whilst she was brought to the UK lawfully, her mother overstayed and did not regularise the Claimant’s status.  In January 2012 the Claimant was granted discretionary leave to remain (DLR) for a three year period, and it was common ground that she was likely to be granted subsequent periods of DLR so as eventually to be entitled to indefinite leave to remain (ILR). She was unable to attend university as she was not eligible for a loan from the Student Loan Company because the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 did not allow consideration of a loan to individuals who were resident in the UK with DLR (requiring ILR) and three years lawful ordinary residence.

Allowing the claim on two of the grounds relied on, the Court noted that the Regulations amounted to a disproportionate interference with her right to education under ECHR, art 2, protocol 1 (A2P1) and Article 14 with A2P1. The Court noted that although the Secretary of State had commissioned two equality impact assessments neither of these reports assessed the impact on individuals such as claimant, nor did the reports consider exceptions to the blanket rule. The Secretary of State had not engaged with the rationality or proportionality of the blanket measure.

The Court rejected the Secretary of State’s reliance on difficulties with administering an exceptions mechanism observing that the Claimant’s degree of integration into UK life and the extent that she had already been educated in the UK were the clear framework criteria. The Court, however, rejected the Claimant’s challenge to the application of the requirement of three year’s ordinary residence. A period of temporary admission could not count towards this and Article 14 ECHR was not engaged by the application of this criterion.

Helen Mountfield QC and Raj Desai were involved in this case.