Published: 20 May 2016
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has welcomed the positive judgement released today on Hunter v Student Awards Agency for Scotland, The Scottish Ministers, and others which found that refusing a student loan to a person because of their age breached Human Rights and equality law.
Elizabeth Hunter challenged the policy of the Student Awards Agency not to award loans to people aged over 55. The Court of Session judgement found this policy was incompatible with European Convention on Human Rights because it unfairly restricted the benefits of finance for higher education to people under the age of 55. The Court also found that Scottish Ministers had breached their duty under the Equality Act to review its equality implications when other changes were made. The Court found that the policy had a 'stark age cut-off' which was clearly discriminatory.
Welcoming the decision Alastair Pringle, Director of the EHRC in Scotland, said:
"This is a real victory against age discrimination. Restricting the availability of student loans to only those under 55 will obviously impact on older people’s ability to study and increase their skills. At a time when many older Scots are struggling to secure well paid work this judgement offers hope to many. We’re also really pleased to see the Court recognising that Scottish Ministers have a duty to appraise their policies to make sure that they are up to date, relevant, and justifiable. In this case the failure to review meant that an out of date policy which caused obvious discrimination has been struck down."
Notes to editors
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Petition of Elizabeth Hunter v (First) Student Awards Agency for Scotland, (Second) the Scottish Ministers, (Third) the Right Honourable Lord Wallace Of Tankerness, the Advocate General for Scotland and (Fourth) the Right Honourable Frank Mulholland QC, the Lord Advocate