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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK


Child prodigy exempted from fees

Samuel, aged nine, was disappointed at a grade B at maths A level

A 10-year-old boy who has won a place at university is to be exempted from paying fees, after fears that the cost would prevent him from taking up the offer.

Samuel Solomi, from Paignton in Devon, who this summer became the second youngest pupil to gain a maths A level, has been offered a place studying pure maths at the Open University.

But his parents feared that their son's place was in jeopardy because they could not afford £450 in fees - and because financial assistance is only usually available from the Open University for over-18 year olds.

But the university has decided to make a special case of the application and despite being under age, Samuel is set to receive financial support to cover his fees.

The Open University also says that Samuel could qualify for a discretionary award from the Department for Education and Employment.

'Money should never be an obstacle'

Although relieved that the fees will now be paid, Samuel's mother, Victoria Solomi, says that the problem with funding should never have arisen.

"If you have worked hard and have the qualifications it should be an automatic progression that you can go to university. Money should never be an obstacle."

"As a parent, it has been very difficult thinking that a lack of money could have meant that our child could have been prevented from carrying on with his studies."

Mrs Solomi stays at home with her children, and her husband is ill, which means that neither parent is currently able to work.

Samuel has been taught at home by his mother, but she says he now needs to study at a higher level to stretch his maths skills.

At the age of nine, he was "very disappointed" to receive only a B grade at maths A level, after studying for six months, she said.

Samuel is now studying for another A level and will begin his degree course in the new year.

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