New education secretary urged to back tuition fee funding reforms

The Our Grades Not Visas campaign has been launched to demand fairer education funding in Scotland.

Call for new education secretary Jenny Gilruth to reform tuition fee residency rules Maryhill Integration Network

Campaigners have called for Scotland’s new education secretary to support migrant and asylum seeking students with tuition fee funding.

Thousands are thought to affected by rules which class students as international despite having lived and studied in Scottish high schools for years – resulting in university tuition fees of up to £25,000 per year.

The Our Grades Not Visas campaign is calling for a law change allowing more young people to access higher education.

They argue those who have been residents for around three years in Scotland should be eligible for funding.

A Scottish Government consultation on the changes closed on Friday and campaigners have launched a website to boost awareness of issue.

They have urged new education secretary Jenny Gilruth to pledge her support for the campaign.

The human rights group Just Right Scotland have supported the campaign and won the landmark case of medical student Ola Jasmin in October last year.

The Court of Session determined that the government’s current system, which requires young people under 18 to have lived in the country for seven years before being eligible for funding, breached the European Convention of Human Rights.

The current campaign was brought to the forefront by Ahmed Alhindi, a school leaver who was denied tuition fee funding despite completing his schooling in Scotland.

Ahmed achieved six Higher qualifications and two Advanced Highers during high school and was offered unconditional offers to universities in Dundee, Aberdeen and St Andrews to study Computer Science.

His application was so impressive that he was offered direct entry to second year at the University of St Andrews.

He is currently awaiting the results of his application for the 2023/24 academic year.

He told STV News: “I really think the consultation was an integral step in engaging the public with crafting the new education regulations, but it should not stop there.

“The Scottish Government should now publish consultation results, follow up with affected students (who responded to the survey), involve activists and local organisations in the next steps of the law-making process, and carry out an equality impact assessment for the new the proposed rules.

“Our website for the campaign was launched earlier this month.”

Ahmed launched the campaign in partnership with the Maryhill Integration Network (MIN), an organisation dedicated to supporting migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

Pinar Aksu, of the MIN, said: “We hosted an event in March which was attended by 60 students who all had similar stories.

“We hosted a round table discussion and gained feedback on how to build a fairer system for education.

“We are going to continue to grow the campaign and it will be interesting to see what happens next.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We would like to thank everyone who participated in this consultation. The Scottish Government will consider the findings and respond in due course.

“We are committed to bringing forward changes to legislation which will take effect from the start of the 2023-24 academic year.”

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