Express & Star

Brian White: Oxford-bound Wolverhampton student WINS battle to stay in the UK

Brian White has won his battle to stay in this country and study at Oxford University, it can be revealed.

Brian White

The talented Wolverhampton-based Chemistry scholar faced having the prize snatched from his grasp and being deported when his application for a student grant was refused because he no longer had permission to live here. He was refused indefinite leave to remain.

The devastated 21-year-old's life was then on hold for over a year while he appealed against the decision, but Oxford's Lady Margaret Hall college agreed to keep the offer open for him for at least another 12 months.

His lawyer Mr Louis MacWilliams received an e-mail from the Home Office confirming the news he had been praying for today.

Brian told the Express & Star: "I got the e-mail from Louis and sat down and let it sink in for about five to 10 minutes. Then I started ringing everybody round to say thank you. I owe so many people so much."

Sharon Bishop, one of the teachers at Highfields School, where Brian was taught after arriving in the UK age 15, said: "When I heard the news I burst into tears. And I never cry. I cried for about an hour.

"We are absolutely thrilled to get this result.

"Now we have got three weeks to pack and get him off to Oxford for the start of the term. We are delighted, thrilled, absolutely over the moon."

College principal and former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger welcomed the news via Twitter.

WATCH: The Express & Star spoke to Brian last week about the campaign

A petition calling for Brian to be allowed to stay in the UK had more than 111,000 signatures today. An update posted by the organiser Luke Wilcox said: "We have just received news that Brian's application has been approved!! Thank you so much for all of the support. Every single one of you has helped to change Brian's life forever!"

The plight of the 21-year-old - first revealed by the Express & Star - prompted more than 110,000 people to sign an online petition urging the Home Office to rethink its decision to refuse him indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Government Chief Whip and South Staffs MP Gavin Williamson, Wolverhampton South West MP Eleanor Smith, West Midland Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson and singer Beverley Knight were among a host of politicians and public figures to throw their weight behind the campaign as the deadline for him to take up the coveted university place grew ever closer.

The first sign Government officials were having second thoughts came on Friday when Brian was invited to take the 'Life in the UK' test, a compulsory requirement for those applying for permanent residence or British citizenship, and passed.

Brian had already overcome a string of major obstacles after being abandoned as a baby.

He lived in an orphanage in Zimbabwe until the age of six when a missionary, impressed by the child’s intellect, introduced him to British-born Peter White who was working in that country and had two children by his Zimbabwean wife.

Brian White

Mr White first fostered and then adopted Brian who was 12 when he moved with his new family to Botswana.

A few years later British citizen Mr White, his two sons and wife returned to live in Penn, leaving Brian in Africa with a family friend until he could get permission to enter the UK.

His education started in Zimbabwe and continued in Botswana until the age of 15 when he was allowed to join the rest of the family in Wolverhampton and became a pupil at Highfields School in Penn where his love of science soon impressed teachers.

They encouraged him to apply to universities and he won the place at Oxford after gaining four A* grades and an A at A Level.