A talented science student has revealed how her education – and future career – could be de-railed because she’s still classed as an international student despite living in the UK for more than half of her life.
Opemipo Hamilton, 20, from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, won two prizes during her first year as a Chemical Engineering student at Loughborough University and is planning a career helping to develop new medicines.
However, her second year of education is under threat because she’s facing £23,000 a year in fees.
Despite moving to the UK since she was nine, the Nigerian-born student is classed as an international student and must pay significantly more than if she was classed as a ‘home’ student, where fees are around £9,000.
Opemipo Hamilton, 20, moved to the UK with her family from Nigeria aged nine and grew up in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. She’s classed as an international student and must pay £23,000 in annual fees to continue her studies, compared to £9,250 paid by UK students
By the end of her first year at Loughborough, Opemipo had won the ExxonMobil: The Santoprene Chemicals Prize and the BP Perry’s Book Prize, awarded to the top 15 first year students in Chemical Engineering.
Opemipo says she’s now resorted to crowdfunding to try and avoid dropping out of university and has tried to sell some of her paintings on Instagram to find the money to fund her fees.
On her GoFundMe page, she explains: ‘I still owe the university thousands of pounds and due to the pandemic and other problems, I haven’t been able to raise sufficient funds towards my university debts.
‘I’m unable to re-enrol for my second year of university and with October drawing near it looks more and more likely that I’ll have to drop out of university.’
She says that if she can’t re-enrol, she’ll be forced to give up on her hopes of becoming a chemical engineer.
The second year Chemical Engineering student at Loughborough University won two prizes in her first year during an illustrious start to her science career – but says she’ll be forced to drop out because she can’t afford the £23,000 international student fees she’s being asked to pay
Opemipo’s fundraising efforts have so far seen her make around a quarter of what she needs to continue studying
The 20 -year-old writes: ‘Dropping out of university would mean giving up on my dreams. But with help from all your donations so much weight would be lifted off my shoulders and I would be able to focus on going to university and doing the absolute best that I can.’
She told the i: ‘My parents had taken loans out to support me. But now my father’s restaurant business is struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, and they are also supporting my sister at college.
‘I’m working two jobs and I’m having to look for a third, which is going to leave little time to fit in my university work, which can be up to 40 hours a week. It doesn’t seem fair that I can’t borrow money to help me be successful, when I could then pay it back and pay taxes into the country.’
So far Opemipo fund-raising efforts have seen her £4250, around a quarter of the £20,000 she says she needs.