The Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS) has confirmed that its guidance given to local authorities denying student support to those with applications for further leave to remain was wrong.
The Department has stated that students who are waiting for a decision on their application for further leave are eligible for student support.
Guidance initially provided by the Department to local authorities excluded this group of learners under the new Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007. This advice was challenged by a number of Local Authorities (LAs) and, after reconsideration, has been withdrawn.
The Department recognises that applications for further leave to remain should be considered as satisfying the definition of a person with leave to enter or remain.
The guidance states:
‘If a person applies for a further period of discretionary leave before the first period of discretionary leave has expired, then the applicant’s discretionary leave may be extended by section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971…provided the application has not been withdrawn, the period of discretionary leave would be extended for the period it takes the Home Office to make a decision on the application.’
In responding to the change, James Lee, the Refugee Council’s Policy Adviser for Employment and Training, said
“This is good news but should never have arisen in the first place. Because of the mistake, people have been denied the student support they are entitled to. The Department must now make sure that local authorities know the correct advice so students can get on with their lives.”