In recent weeks, significant numbers of asylum seekers in the UK have been informed that they are prohibited from studying, including some who had been preparing for important examinations.

Legislative changes brought in under Schedule 10 to the Immigration Act 2016, which came into force in January 2018, have affected the status of those asylum seekers who are in the UK without leave to enter or remain; including those who are waiting for the Home Office to make a decision on their asylum application.

Until recently these individuals were granted ‘temporary admission’, but as of January, this and several other kinds of status have been grouped together under the new status of ‘immigration bail.’ Like the old status of temporary admission, immigration bail places restrictions on individuals, such as a ban from working or the requirement to live at a specific address or report to the Home Office. However, the new status may also now include a condition preventing study. Guidance published by the Home Office suggests that ‘it will be appropriate to impose a bail condition restricting work and studies in the majority of cases.’

The immigration bail provisions are retrospective, meaning that they affect not only people who have just arrived in the UK, but also anyone who is already in the UK but does not have leave to enter or remain. As a result, some young asylum seekers who have been in the UK since they were children are being notified that they are no longer permitted to study.

Moreover, if someone breaches an ‘immigration bail’ condition or the Home Office has reason to believe they will do so, the Home Office has the power to arrest and detain that individual. Breaches can also lead to asylum appeals being rejected. Campaigners are concerned that the no-study condition is not made clear in the paperwork, which could lead to asylum seekers breaching it unwittingly.

The role that education can play in the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ policy towards refugees and migrants was also brought to public attention this week as the Department for Education is reported to have undertaken a major U-turn on its controversial policy to collect data on pupil nationality and country of birth from schools. The policy attracted widespread criticism after some schools demanded to see pupils’ passports and even targeted non-white pupils. A memorandum of understanding between the DfE and the Home Office revealed that the requirement for schools to collect this sensitive data, introduced in September 2016, had the “strategic aim” of targeting those who “seek to benefit from the abuse of immigration control”. The policy change follows an appeal launched last month by the campaign group Against Borders For Children and the human rights charity Liberty against the High Court’s initial refusal to allow the case to be taken to judicial review.


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Photo: (CC) Jeff Djevdet:,  February 2016


This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.