Northern Ireland news

Home Office urged to `reverse' decision not to permit asylum seeker status to Belfast student

Arezki Yachir cannot take up a place at Queen's University because he is not eligible for a student loan or grant

THE Home Office was last night under pressure to "reverse" its decision not to permit asylum seeker status to a Belfast student.

Arezki Yachir, who came to Northern Ireland with his family from Algeria in 2014, cannot take up a place at Queen's University to study criminology because the decision means he is not eligible for a student loan or grant.

The teenager, who attended Blessed Trinity College in north Belfast, received two A* grades and an A in his A-levels.

He was refused leave to remain in the UK when he turned 18 and has now appealed the decision to the Immigration Tribunal.

That appeal is still ongoing.

In the meantime, he had been due to take up a place at Queen's next week however cannot because he is not eligible for a tuition loan or maintenance loan.

Sinn Féin North Belfast MP John Finucane described the decision by the Home Office as "wrong" and called for it to be reversed.

"I have spoken with the family and their solicitor over recent days to offer my support in anyway that I can," he said.

"I have also contacted Queen's University to ask that they show leadership, and in the absence of financial support from the EA, provide the necessary financial support to allow Arezki to continue along his academic path".

The Education Authority told the BBC that it could not discuss individual cases but if circumstances changed then applications for funding could be assessed for eligibility again.

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