High Court rules that student finance regulations discriminate against domestic violence survivors

The High Court has today ruled that a survivor of domestic violence was unlawfully refused a student loan and that the current student finance regulations discriminate against victims of domestic violence.

Our client’s ex-partner had withheld her immigration documents. This led to her spousal visa not being renewed in time. Our client ended up being unlawfully in the UK for nearly a year through no fault of her own.

She was later granted indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence. But the gap in ‘lawful residency’ caused by her ex-partner’s abuse led to her being precluded by the current education regulations from obtaining a student loan

Without student funding, she incurred significant debt with her university and was forced to withdraw from her studies.

As a result of the case, brought by Helen Mowatt of PILC with Dan Squires of Matrix Chambers acting as counsel, the student finance regulations have been amended. A student who has been granted indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a victim of domestic abuse is now eligible to receive a student loan straight away. The new rules are due to come into force on 13 February 2020.

This case is an important victory for migrant women who experience domestic violence. A thick web of unfair immigration and other regulations help keep survivors trapped in abusive relationships. Access to student finance will make it easier for women to leave and rebuild their lives independently.

The full judgment can be read here.