End to EMAs

first_imgMPs voted on Wednesday to scrap Education Maintenance Allowance in England. Labour had called on the government to rethink its plans to axe the means-tested grant, which is given to students who stay in education past 16, but lost to a coalition majority of 59 votes.It was confirmed in October that the EMA was to be cancelled as part of the UK’s budget cuts, and applications have already been closed to students who would be claiming an allowance of the 2011/12 academic year.The government justified their move by arguing that the current system was inefficient, with Education Secretary Michael Gove claiming the allowance had been “poorly targeted”.A protest was staged by students outside Parliament, whilst within, Labour’s education spokesman, Andy Burnham, claimed that social mobility would be “thrown into reverse” and that it was an attack on the aspirations of young people.Gove responded that “you cannot spend money you do not have”.The grants are of up to £30 a week and were intended to be spent on course necessities, books and transport.The decision comes despite research published on Tuesday by the University and College Union which suggested that 70% of students in the poorest areas would drop out of college if they no longer received their EMA payments.Oxford uses the EMA as a part of the contextual data used to gauge student’s academic background, and therefore to help in the process of selecting those student’s with the best academic potential.Laura Bromely, a second year student at Trinity, said, “Even though it may be inefficient, it certainly helps many students through A level education which they otherwise wouldn’t have access to, and to scrap this assistance would mean places like Oxford in particular could lose bright, academically gifted candidates due to financial barriers”.Aaron Porter, NUS president, said that the EMA was a “vital lifeline” for young people.The government says it plans to support poorer students through a discretionary fund administered by colleges, which it aims to triple from its existing level of £26 million.last_img read more