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Asylum seeker with top grades denied Queen's university place

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Arezki Yachir Photo: BBC

Arezki Yachir Photo: BBC

Arezki Yachir Photo: BBC

An asylum seeker who received top grades in his A-levels has said he cannot take up his place at Queen's University because he is not eligible for a student loan or grant.

Arezki Yachir has been living in and attending school in north Belfast since his family moved from Algeria in 2014.

He received two A* grades and an A grade in his A-levels, according to BBC News NI.

He was refused leave to remain in the UK when he turned 18 and has appealed to the Immigration Tribunal against that decision. The appeal is still ongoing.

Following his A-level results, Mr Yachir was accepted by Queen's University to study criminology and was due to begin his course on Monday, 21 September.

But the Education Authority (EA) has told him as the Home Office has said that he is "liable to be detained" as "a person without leave", he is not eligible for a tuition fee loan or maintenance loan.

"I've lived here for quite a while now and not being able to go to university, not being able to do anything until I get residency or something like that, it's very sad and mentally it's tough as well," Mr Yachir told BBC News NI.

Mr Yachir was accepted to Queen's but he told BBC News NI that he cannot take it up without a tuition fee loan and living costs loan.

"The Education Authority, they can't really help me financially to go to university because as an asylum seeker, as a person with no status in the UK they can't really help me - but I'm not blaming them because they're just doing their job.

"I just think it's a bit sad that I can't go to university and keep on going with my education.

"I need either a student visa or residency and my court was still pending because of Covid for residency so right now I'm left in no situation," Mr Yachir said.

"I was supposed to start university next week and now, you know, I can't go anymore so it's a waste of a year - I'm pretty sad about it.

"I was young when I moved here so I feel at home."

Mr Yachir's solicitor, Brian Moss of Worthington's Law in Belfast, is challenging the decision not to award him student funding, according to BBC News NI.

The EA told BBC News NI it could not discuss individual cases but if circumstances changed then applications for funding could be assessed for eligibility again.

The EA also said that Student Finance NI worked with students and the Home Office to obtain all the relevant documentation to help assess applications for eligibility for funding.

If you would like to donate to Mr Yachir's tuition fees, you can do so here

Belfast Telegraph