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By James HoreA FATHER has voiced his anger after his son was denied a student loan for his university course because he has not lived in the UK for the past three years.

By James Hore

A FATHER has voiced his anger after his son was denied a student loan for his university course because he has not lived in the UK for the past three years.

Marc Dudley was born in Essex and spent his first eight years in the county before he went to live in Norway with his mother after his parents divorced.

He returned to live in Galleywood, Chelmsford, when he was 16 years old and, after passing his A-levels, he was accepted to read Scandinavian studies at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

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But the 18-year-old, who holds a British passport and National Insurance card, has been unable to get a student loan as he is classed as an overseas student because he has only been “home” for the past two years.

The guidelines for student loan funding for a British person require them to have been resident in the UK for the past three years.

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Marc's father Nigel, a computer consultant, said he was shocked the three-year period would have been waived if his son had been seeking asylum.

He added: “We are not asking for any payment of fees - just to get my son a student loan just like any other British student. I find it quite incredible and I am really annoyed about it.

“He lived abroad through no choice of his own and the timing of his return was planned with his interests at heart, so I feel it is rather unfair not to grant him the student loan in these circumstances.”

Mr Dudley, who has written to his MP, John Whittingdale, about the matter said he felt there was no way the decision would be changed by Essex County Council.

Marc said his university experience was being hampered by a shortfall in his funds and the teenager feared he would not be able to complete the three-year course.

“I have not been able to buy the books I need and I have to borrow them from lecturers and the library which can be a problem as it is not always easy to get hold of them when you want to,” he added.

“I have managed to keep on top of things this year, but I have not been able to live the way I would want to - I have had to cut back on food and the amount of times I go out.”

Mr Whittingdale, the Conservative MP for Maldon and Chelmsford East, said: “Here is a young lad who is quite obviously a British citizen, born here, and the fact is he was abroad as a result of circumstances.

“To try to suggest he is not entitled to a student loan is quite wrong. I have written to the minister at the Department for Education asking her to review the case sympathetically.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said its position would not be changed because it was based on Government guidelines.

He added: “Unfortunately, Marc is not eligible for financial aid in the form of a loan. There are clear requirements of the Government for student loans and all candidates must have been living in Britain for three years.

“He could also opt to leave his course now and re-start it in September 2004 when he is eligible for a student loan.

“The county council would advise anyone leaving the country for a year or more to check their eligibility first.”

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