What is the name of the initiative?
Let Us Learn
What is the name of the promoter? How old is she?
The promoter is Chrisann Jarrett, and she is 19 years old
Where is the initiative implemented?
Chrisann Jarrett is originally from Jamaica, but has lived in the UK since she was 8. The Campaign was carried out in the United Kingdom
When was the campaign launched?
March 2014, and it is still ongoing.
THE CONTEXT: what was the challenge she wanted to address?
Between 2012 and 2015, students who were residents in the UK, but did not yet obtain citizenship were not eligible for student loans. In order to obtain funds, students needed to have “indefinite leave to remain” status, which could take up to 10 years to get. Also, universities could charge them international fees, which are much higher than the standard fees. Many students could not afford to pay the high fees, thus becoming impossible for them to attend university.
After 2014, Let Us Learn dedicated itself to other issues affecting young migrants. Migrant students, in order to maintain their resident status, need to pay Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and Home Office fees every 30 months. The cost of this fee has increased by 238% between 2014 and 2019. Thus, many individuals are at risk of losing their immigrant status, and becoming illegal migrants, since they cannot pay these high fees
THE INTERVENTION: What initiatives were then promoted by Let Us Learn?
At first they were just a small group of people facing the fact that they can’t get student finance for university, so starting from March 2014, they started meeting fortnightly to see what they can do about this common problem.
In July 2014, they met with one of the most inspirational community organisers out there: Carlos Saavedra and learned about ‘community organising’ and how to plan a campaign, realising that their stories were their most powerful and motivating asset. Taking this into consideration, they started telling their stories in public, so that other young people like them would hear about and join the campaign “Let us Learn”.
Young, Gifted and Blocked is a campaign created by Let us Learn, a group of young migrants, with the help of the youth justice charity Just for Kids Law in 2014. In October 2016, over 120 young people, part of the Let us Learn campaign, signed a letter to university vice-counsellors in order to ask for help to continue learning.
The aim of the initiative was to raise awareness of such issues with senior university figures who might be able to provide scholarships for the students who were accepted to university but couldn’t afford the cost because of their immigrant status.
The initiative consisted of three online videos – “We Belong”, “Young, Gifted and Blocked”, and “Let Us Learn – A Short Documentary”, but also included offline activities such as protests and parliamentary speeches. The initiative was addressed to authority figures in universities as well as to government officials.
The 24th June 2015 was a huge day for the Let Us Learn campaign as they came out in force in support of the Supreme Court challenge to the student finance regulations.
What are the outcomes and results of this initiative?
The campaign started small with a blog on the Just for Kids website and platforms at various events, but it had already received interest and support from different avenues.
They knew that the campaign needed national media coverage to grow and to further raise awareness amongst young people, this is why in October/ November, Chrisann plucked up the courage to tell her story in the Guardian, and then on BBC Newsnight. The media coverage meant that many more young people facing the same barriers to education heard about Let Us Learn and asked to get involved. Nearly every single young person they spoke with said the same thing: they thought they were the only person in this position and that they were alone.
In early 2015, they started working closely with some of the leading experts in this area of immigration law. Solange Valdez from the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) ran several workshops on immigration law that were attended by many young people and brought new energy to the campaign. At this stage, before the Supreme Court case, changing their immigration status was the only option most of them had to get to university.
In the months and weeks before the 2015 general election, they attended as many public meetings with prospective party candidates as they could, putting local representatives on the spot. They started to prepare for the legal challenge to the student finance rules that would be heard in the Supreme Court at the end of June, and to plan our demonstration on the day. In addition they had loads of media coverage, including from the Daily Telegraph
Why is this initiative considered successful? What consequences can be clearly identified thanks to it?
Prior to 2015, many non-UK nationals needed ‘settled’ status – such as indefinite leave to remain – to be eligible for student finance for universities in England. Many young people who had grown up in England faced a ten year wait before they would obtain ‘settled’ status and before they would be able to access student finance for university. To raise awareness of the situation and to change the policy to help other young people who were ‘Young, gifted and blocked’. The campaign coordinator obtained other young people’s support. They provided their testimonies, demonstrated outside the Supreme Court and shared their stories publicly in the national media. Policy changed through the actions conducted; more young people have access to university