Today I am announcing that the Government will extend student support in England to an additional group of students.
This decision follows a ruling of the Supreme Court on 29 July 2015 that it was unlawful to refuse an individual student, Ms Beaurish Tigere, a loan solely on the basis that she was not settled in the UK. Most students secure support by virtue of their having such status. Ms Tigere did not, but had as a matter of fact been resident in the UK from an early age and had completed her primary and secondary education here.
The Government has consulted on the creation of a new category of eligibility for student support based on long residence in the UK to implement the Supreme Court’s judgement in respect of students in a materially identical position to Ms Tigere. I am grateful to those who responded to the consultation which closed in January 2016. The comments we received were taken fully into account, and helped us to refine the initial proposals.
Settled status will remain the most common route for students to become eligible for student support, but those with a period of long residency in the UK will now also become eligible. Student support will now be available for those persons who are:
- under 18 years of age and who have lived in the UK for at least 7 years prior to the first day of the first academic year of their course; or are
- Aged 18 years and above who have either spent at least half their life in the UK or at least 20 years in the UK prior to the first day of the first academic year of their course.
In all cases, the students would also need to demonstrate three years’ ordinary lawful residence in the United Kingdom immediately preceding the start of their course, and meet other relevant eligibility criteria, to be able to access student support.
We are planning to lay amending Regulations shortly so that this change can take effect for the 2016/17 academic year.
We also plan to make identical changes to the regulations setting out the residency rules for Advanced Learner Loans and the Postgraduate Master’s Loan for the academic year 2016/17.
These changes will enable students who have lived in the UK for a long period of time to continue their studies.
Higher education is a devolved matter and therefore the Devolved Administrations will need to consider how the Supreme Court’s ruling affects their funding systems.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords