Student loans, immigration controls and human rights

August 17th, 2015

Ms Tigere has lived in the UK since 2001 and she currently has discretionary leave to remain. She will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in 2018. Last year, she was refused a student loan because of her immigration status i.e. she was not settled in the UK. The Supreme Court (majority 3:2) has over-turned the Court of Appeal and found that this settlement criterion  breached her rights under Article 14 read with Article 2 of the First Protocol of the ECHR: R (Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills [2015] UKSC 57.

In summary, the Court has found that the settlement criterion for student loans discriminates on ground of immigration status in the enjoyment of the right to education. The regulations in question pursued a legitimate aim, namely targeting resources on those students who are likely to stay in the UK to complete their education and afterwards contribute to the UK economy through their enhanced skills and the taxes they pay. However, the means chosen to pursue that legitimate aim were not rationally connected to it; Ms Tigere had discretionary leave to remain in the UK and an established private life here.  A bright line rule which more closely fitted the legitimate aims of the measure could have been chosen.

I blogged about the High Court and Court of Appeal decisions last year. There is an excellent summary of the Supreme Court’s decision on the UK Human Rights blog. The Supreme Court’s own press summary is also available.

Rachel Kamm, 11KBW

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