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Special fund helps college tackle EMA crisis

Doncaster College has announced a special fund to help ease the crisis EMA currently affecting students across the nation.

The move came after talks between Mark Haysom, chief executive of the National Learning and Skills Council (LSC), and college managers on how best to deal with problems caused by Government computer issues. The crisis has led to thousands of students across England not being registered properly for EMA (Educational Maintenance Allowance) for the coming term. Students caught in the turmoil could find themselves losing out on £30 a week.

A special fund from the college aims to ensure no student is adversely affected by the problems.

College Principal Rowland Foote said: "Even though this is through no fault of the College, it is our duty to look after the welfare of all our students.

"We totally understand the financial pressures there are on students, especially at this time of the credit crunch.

"We will make sure that no student is out of pocket because of the Government’s problems and we will be pressurising the Department for Children Schools and Families into making sure this situation never arises again."

The EMA was set up as part of the government’s drive to get more young people to pursue further education after the age of 16. It is designed to help students aged between 16 and 18, who come from low-income families.

Ed Balls, Education Secretary, said last week: “I’m told by the Learning & Skills Council (LSC) that the contract is behind but they’ve got more staff in and their gearing up to get this sorted out.

"The important thing is no young person will not get the money.

"I’ve said to the Learning & Skills Council that they must work with colleges to ensure that no young person will not be able to start college because they’re waiting for their payment.

"This is something the Learning & Skills Council is sorting out with the contractor but obviously as ministers, DIUS and myself want to make sure that this is sorted out as soon as possible."

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