Survey: Lack of halal student finance has disadvantaged almost 100K students

Almost 10,000 Muslim students per year are either forgoing university entirely or are being forced to self-finance because of the lack of provision and Alternative Student Finance (ASF), according to interim results from a Muslim Census study.

This means that 100,000 students have been impacted so far because there have been ten cohorts since the introduction of the £9,000 annual tuition fee.

The Muslim Census survey, conducted in partnership Islamic Finance Guru, National Zakat Foundation, British Board of Scholars and Imams and leading student advocate Asha Hassan, attracted a huge 36,000 responses indicating a high level of demand for halal student finance.

Interim results from the online survey confirmed:

  • More than one in ten qualifying Muslim students miss out entirely on university directly because of the lack of ASF.
  • Almost one in six Muslim students are self financing directly due to the lack of ASF, resulting in severe restrictions with regards to which course and university they decide to attend, and the additional stress of having to work often full time hours to fund fees and living costs.
  • Four in five Muslim students feel conflicted owing to taking conventional finance, with resulting mental health consequences which sometimes required clinical intervention.
  •  71% of respondents deemed the existing student financing options to be discriminatory against Muslims.

According to a report published in 2017/18 by AdvanceHE, 8.9% of university students are Muslim, which equates to 36,655 Muslim students per annum. If the interim survey results were extrapolated across this cohort, more than 4,000 potential students per annum are forgoing a university education with close to 6,000 forced to self-fund.

Student loans

In 2013 Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the UK government would be introducing a Shariah-compliant student loan, saying: “Never again should a Muslim in Britain feel unable to go to university because they cannot get a student loan simply because of their religion.”

But Muslim organisations recently warned that the government may imminently scrap a halal student loan scheme if the community does not show there is a demand for it. They said the government could scrap the scheme as early as next month if the community does not act urgently.

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“With Muslim communities especially affected by economic deprivation, improving the life chances of 10,000 students annually through granting them equal access to funding a degree would help to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty, and demonstrate the government has a meaningful commitment to deliver on its aim of levelling up equality of opportunity,” said Rizwan Yusoof, Director of Services of National Zakat Foundation.

“To receive 36,000 responses within one week went well beyond our highest expectations and required us to urgently upgrade our server capacity to deal with the sheer volume of inbound traffic,” said Sadiq Dorasat, co-founder of Muslim Census.

“This response vividly demonstrates the widespread very high real life cost resulting from lack of Alternative Student Finance. We estimate about 100,000 students have been disenfranchised to date since the introduction of higher £9,000 annual fees in September 2012. We therefore urge our government to bring in ASF by September 2022 so further cohorts are not so deprived.”

The full survey results are expected to be published in the coming months. However, in the meantime, you can see the full sample breakdown here.

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