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Further education students need adequate maintenance support, say NUS and AOC

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Ahead of next week’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the National Union of Students (@nusuk) and the Association of Colleges have united in calling on Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) to support further education (FE) students struggling with living costs (@AoC_info).

In a joint article by NUS Vice President for FE Salsabil Elmegri and AOC President Sally Dicketts published during the fourth annual Colleges Week and NUS’s FE day of action, their demands focused on improving the “woefully limited” maintenance support currently on offer.

They argue that the 16-19 Bursary, which in England replaced Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in 2010, is inadequate. This system gives money to institutions rather than directly to students, uses an application process which requires high levels of personal evidence, and excludes certain groups such as young carers, parents, and apprentices.

Commenting ahead of next week’s Comprehensive Spending Review, NUS Vice President for FE Salsabil Elmegri said:

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“We’ve seen during the past 18 months just how many struggles FE students face in our education system. The idea that everyone is able to succeed no matter their background has been exposed as a total pipe dream.

“The Government must use the Comprehensive Spending Review to build an FE system that’s truly accessible and available throughout people’s lives. This must include support for living costs, which should come through a system of non-repayable means-tested grants directly available to students who could otherwise not afford to live while in education and training”.

Association of Colleges President Sally Dicketts commented:

“For lifelong learning opportunities to work for the people that need them most, being able to live whilst studying is crucial. With more and more people needing to upskill and retrain, the barriers to further education are counterproductive to the government’s ambitions of a ‘levelled up’ society.  The spending review is an opportune moment to invest in students to get the skills the economy so desperately needs.”

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