Friday, 10 December 2010

The unkindest cut

Student protests against increased university tuition fees have grabbed the headlines this week, but amongst the protesters have been a smaller group of young people drawing attention to the abolition of Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs). These are means tested payments made to students from poorer families who would otherwise not be able to afford to stay on in education after GCSEs. Poorer families need the additional income that their 16 year old could bring in from any kind of job. The last government brought in EMAs to take the pressure off these young people so they got the chance to do A levels. But the Coalition has abolished new EMAs from January 2011. Students who already have an EMA will continue to get it for the rest of this academic year but not the following year. The government says something called 'learner support funds' will be available through schools, colleges and training providers to help students who most need it to continue in learning, however no other details have been released. There is a real risk that many able young people will not continue their education after GSCE let alone consider a university education.

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