From education to employment

Colleges call on government to reverse EMA abolition

Students and staff at colleges are protesting across England against the Government’s decision to abolish Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) following months of campaigning by the Association of Colleges (AoC).

Martin Doel, chief executive at the AoC, said: “EMAs are a sound and wise investment in the future of our country. This is why we want to save them.

“We oppose government’s decision to abolish EMA in England. The overall spending cut involved could see support for the poorest young people shrinking from £574m to possibly as little as £75m.”

The EMA is a means-tested allowance of between £10 and £30, paid to 16- to 19-year-olds who stay on in education.

It is a key factor in improving participation in colleges across the UK, as it supports young people from less well off backgrounds going onto college, mostly those students whose household income is less than £20,817.

In London that equates to just under 100,000 teenagers, and in some areas of Birmingham, Leicester and the North West, as many as four-fifths of students are dependent on this weekly financial support and will be hit hard by this cut.

Mr Doel added: “We urge MPs to reconsider their decision which will disadvantage young people from low income families, severely limiting their career prospects which in turn will have an impact on the wider economy.

“We are particularly alarmed at the Department for Education’s decision to stop paying EMA in July 2011 to 16-18 year olds, including those who will be half way through their course. The Government is also stopping new applications at the end of December before it has alternative arrangements in place.”

AoC has been campaigning on this issue for several months and supports people’s right to protest peacefully and lawfully. It also believes that if the government scraps the EMA it would cause hardship for many young people, and their families, forcing them to narrow their choice.

Aastha Gill

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