Crowdfunding plea raises thousands after attempt to get student loan fails due to visa issue

A nursing student has used crowdfunding to raise £40,000 to finance her degree, after being rejected for a student loan.

First-year adult nursing student Naana Aisha Issaka said she learned on 31 March that she was ineligible for a student loan due to a visa issue dating back to when she was a child, despite living in the UK since 2010.

She has been contacted by other healthcare students in similar situations

With her dream of becoming a nurse in jeopardy, she made an emotional plea on Instagram for help to raise the funds she needed to continue her studies.

Ms Issaka, who is studying at De Monfort University Leicester and had been financing her studies by working as a carer, thanked all those who donated. ‘It means I can concentrate on my studies and just be a normal student. I can go to university, have accommodation, socialise with other students and not feel so isolated,’ she said.

Ms Issaka emigrated to the UK from Ghana when she was 11, but only learned that her father’s visa would no longer cover her when she turned 18. She is currently on a rolling visa, which allows her to stay in the UK for two and a half years, after which she can apply to remain indefinitely.

Since talking about her experience, she has been contacted by numerous healthcare students in similar situations. ‘A lot of students, especially from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, have been through this situation because our parents couldn’t obtain our residency,’ she said.

Barriers to joining the profession

Ms Issaka said she could not understand why so many barriers stood in the way of her joining the profession, considering current nurse staffing problems and the government’s pledge to boost numbers by 50,000 by the end of the current parliament in 2024. She said the government should consider giving more leeway to people like herself, who had no control over their visa situation as minors.

There were 36,214 full-time equivalent nursing vacancies in the NHS in England as of December 2020.

A spokesperson for the Student Loans Company, which administers student loans and grants across the UK, said Ms Issaka’s case had been dealt with correctly. ‘Ms Issaka was not ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the first day of the first academic year of her course, therefore, in accordance with government policy she is not entitled to funding for any part of the course she started in 2019.’

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