Student with four A* A-levels refused finance over immigration status
A student who was awarded four A* grades at A-level is facing an anxious wait to hear whether he will be able to take up an offer from Imperial College due to a dispute over his immigration status.
Hassan al-Sherbaz, 18, has been refused a student loan despite having lived in Britain for half his life. Sherbaz, who arrived in the UK with his parents aged nine, has been educated at primary and secondary schools in Milton Keynes.
When Sherbaz applied for student finance he was told his immigration status – of discretionary leave to remain – means he is not eligible for a loan. His status means he would have to pay the international tuition fee rate at £26,000 a year.
He now faces deferring his offer for two years while he applies for indefinite leave to remain status, which will make him eligible for student finance. Sherbaz said: “I feel like I will have lost time in comparison to my peers.”
Sherbaz said he remembers the day he was told his loan application had been refused. “It was a very big shock,” he said. “I was thinking what am I going to do and how am I going to afford this. But I was very motivated to prove myself that I can get through this.”
On Thursday Sherbaz celebrated four A*s in maths, further maths, physics and chemistry, meeting his offer to study chemical engineering at Imperial College London. Sherbaz dreams of a career in the oil industry. “I have a lot of ambitions in helping society and the environment.”
Sherbaz’s family relocated from Baghdad to Britain in 2006 so his father could take up a PhD. Sherbaz remembers the Iraqi capital as “very dangerous”. “There were killings in the street,” he says. “It was something that was part of our daily lives.”
Sherbaz has been offered hope by a recent supreme court decision that could pave the way for hundreds of people, like Sherbaz, who are settled in Britain and have been to school in this country to carry on to higher education. The supreme court found that the blanket exclusionary rulepreventing anyone except UK citizens or those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK from applying for student loans was disproportionate and could not be justified.
Rachel Knowles, a solicitor at Just for Kids Law, the charity who brought the case,known as Tigere v secretary of state for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis), said: “We are hopeful that the government will take account of the decision in Tigere and revise the guidance for all students in similar situations. We are very happy to work with the government on this.
“Since the judgment we have been contacted by a large number of young people in these situations. We will try to provide them with individual support to resolve their financing issues but we hope that soon the rules will change so that we won’t have to take each case individually.”
A Bis spokesperson said the government was considering the detail of the Tigere ruling.