A FORMER York head girl who is working a supermarket checkout because she can't afford university tuition fees is mounting a human rights challenge after being refused a student loan.

"Hard-working and high-achieving" Beaurish Tigere was head girl at Burnholme College where she got seven GCSEs, before moving on to sixth form at Archbishop Holgate's School and gaining four A levels.

She has been given leave to to take her case to a full judicial review hearing after her dreams of a university education were dashed when the Student Loan Company's refused to give her a loan to cover her tuition fees.

Beaurish, 18, came to England with her Zambian parents in 1995, when her father was as student in York. Although her parents split, Beaurish and her mother stayed in York and the teenager was given discretionary leave to remain in the UK last year.

And even though Beaurish, who now works in Waitrose, has only ever been to UK schools and barely remembers her life in Africa, she was told she vould not have a student loan because of a blanket ban on those with only discretionary leave to stay in the UK. With no other source of funding, that leaves Beaurish unable to pay the £9,000 a year university fees, a court heard.

Her legal team argued the student loan refusal violated her human right to an education, and the High Court has now opened the way for a full judicial review of the case.

Beaurish's barrister Helen Mountfield QC said she was "educationally successful and socially well-integrated" and had lost her university place because she was refused the loan. She is now in a race against time to get funding in time to start studying next year, the barrister added.

And although Beaurish plans to work to support herself during term time, she simply cannot earn enough to pay tuition fees in up front instalments,.

"As such, ineligibility for the state student loan scheme operates as a complete barrier to her accessing higher education," Miss Mountfield added.

Vikram Sachdeva, appearing for Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary, Vince Cable, attacked Beaurish's case as "hopeless".

He said it was a "startling proposition" that those with "mere temporary" permission to live in the UK could be classed as having an "ordinary residence" here, in order to qualify for student funding.

However, opening the way for Beaurish to take her case to a full judicial review hearing, Mr Justice Supperstone said: "I consider all the grounds are arguable".

Beaurish's challenge is expected to come on for hearing at the High Court in July.