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Under current student support regulations only students who are classified as home or EU students are eligible to apply for student support including tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and grants.  Other students who fall into a narrow group of exceptional categories, such as refugees, may also be eligible to apply for student funding, but students with limited leave to remain and discretionary leave to remain (DLR) are ineligible. 

Many students with DLR have been resident in the UK for a considerable time and some have completed most of their schooling in the UK, but for student support purposes these students are classified as overseas students which means that they are unable to access public funds for their higher education and they may be charged higher unregulated fees.  This policy therefore effectively shuts many of these students out of higher education.

This treatment of students with DLR has been challenged in court in the Tigere case and in July 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that excluding students with DLR from student support was unlawful and breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

In response to the Tigere judgement, on 16 September 2015, the Student Loans Company issued an interim policy for the handling of student support applications from students with limited and discretionary leave to remain. 

The government is now considering how to respond to this ruling and launched a consultation a New Eligibility Category for Higher Education Student Support which proposed creating a new category of student for student support purposes – students with long term residency in the UK.  The consultation closed on 8 January 2016 and the government will respond in due course.  The Government also intends to publish an Equality Assessment of the proposals and aims to bring in new regulations for the academic year 2016/17.

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