Brainiac sixth former with four A*s refused loan over immigration status

He escaped war-torn Iraq when he was nine


A student who got A*s across the board in his exams has been denied funding after a dispute over his immigration status.

Hassan al-Sherbaz has a place at Imperial to study chemical engineering but has been refused a student loan despite living in England for half of his life.

The 18-year-old now faces a two year wait until he can apply for permanent residency and go to uni – as he can’t afford the £26,000 a year tuition fees.

Hassan told The Tab: “Until I can get the home fee status I can’t actually go to university – it’s really not fair.”

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He added: “I can apply next year, but the application will take six months so I will have missed two years of education and will be behind my peers.

“They tried to make the immigration laws more stringent for people who are coming, but all they did was make it more stringent on people who have lived here all of their lives, as I have.

“It makes no sense to make it more difficult for people who have a job and a mortgage here.”

Last week Hassan got an impressive four A*s in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry which confirmed his place at Imperial.

Hassan came to Britain from Iraq back in 2006, and was able to escape what he called a “terrible situation”.

He added: “It was part of my daily routine to try and avoid being killed.

“Sometimes we escaped by the skin of our teeth because there was war all around us.”

His family were able to come to Britain when his dad begun a PhD at Bucks Uni.

Hassan said: “The most important thing was our safety, and we were safe here.

“I didn’t really know much English so that was my first struggle, but by second year I was fluent and I managed to quickly make friends.”

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He added: “There are an estimated 1000 people in the same situation as me who are trying to get to university and they can’t.

“£26,000 a year is basically a rejection, nobody living in the UK could afford that – especially with it being a four year course.”

Hassan has recently been given hope by a supreme court decision which could make way for hundreds of people who settled in this country to move on to higher education.

In a previous case named Tigere vs Secretary of State, the supreme court found that the blanket exclusion rule preventing anyone except UK citizens or those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK from applying for student loans was unfair and could not be justified.

Rachel Knowles, a solicitor at Just for Kids Law, the charity who brought the case told the Guardian: “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.”