Today and tomorrow we are in the High Court for a two-day hearing on a judicial-review challenge to the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011. The case raises the question of the right to state support that accompanies the right of residence derivative of the exercise of freedom of movement rights by a British citizen and their family.
Our client is a Zimbabwean national married to a British citizen. She was refused maintenance support for her degree studies because of her immigration status.
At the time she was refused maintenance support our client was exercising Surinder Singh rights. These rights allow a British citizen who has lived in an European Economic Area (EEA) country exercising EEA rights of residence to bring qualifying family members back to the UK to live here.
Student maintenance support is generally available to the family members of EEA nationals who have exercised free movement rights. However, the Student Loan Company refused to award our client maintenance support for her degree because her husband is a British citizen. This happened because the definition of an EEA migrant worker in the relevant regulations excluded EEA nationals who were British citizens.
Being refused a maintenance loan has caused our client and her family considerable stress and financial hardship. She is arguing that the regulations that excluded her are a breach of her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and contrary to the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination in EU Law.