A MATURE student has won a landmark legal case after judges ruled a ban on college loans to over-55s was in breach of her human rights.

Elizabeth Hunter, 56, challenged a decision by Student Awards Agency for Scotland to deny financial support because she was one year older than the loan threshold.

Mature Student LoansAfter winning the right to receive assistance, she said: “They keep telling you you are never too old to learn. But it seems you can be too old for a loan.”

A former hairdresser, Ms Hunter returned to education to start her own catering business after being out of work for almost 30 years. She initially studied for City & Guilds cookery diploma at Motherwell College and graduated from it in June 2014.  In August 2014, she enrolled at the college to study for an HNC in Hospitality Management but was told she was too old to qualify for a loan to help cover living costs.

But at Edinburgh’s Court of Session, Lady Scott has ruled that the decision contravened article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines in law the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex, religion or age.

Don’t Give Up Your Dreams

“One minute I am crying the next I’m laughing. ” said Ms Hunter, who left school at 16 with two ‘O’ levels. “I was only trying to better myself.  “It is a big step for other people because there have been so many people who wanted to better themselves and go back to education but couldn’t afford to because they weren’t allowed the loan.  “So they gave up their dreams, more or less.”

Ms Hunter, who had previously trained as a hairdresser but had to leave the job after five years due to poor health, added: “I am hoping this decision helps others.”

A Real Victory

The Equality & Human Rights Commission said it was a”real victory against age discrimination”.
In a written judgement issued at the court, Lady Scott wrote that the regulations did not encourage people in their 50s to go back to college to learn new skills.

SOURCE: Herald Scotland

NB: According to UCAS “There are no age limits to student finance, so you can apply at any time of life – as long as it’s the first time you’ll be studying for a degree.”

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