STAFF and students at West Cheshire College have welcomed the announcement that the replacement education maintenance allowance (EMA) scheme could mean hundreds of students Ellesmere Port can continue in Further Education.
Education Secretary Michael Gove announced a replacement of the EMA as well as confirming that students starting their second and third year will continue to receive funding for the next academic year.
Mr Gove originally announced the abolition of EMA, aimed at students in household earning under £21,000 a year, as part of the spending review last autumn.
Principal Sara Mogel said: “Since the Government announced the abolition of the EMA we have worked hard to lobby our local MPs and the Education Secretary.
“Every year more than 1,100 young people at West Cheshire College receive an EMA with the vast majority receiving the top £30 EMA. This allowance is of great significance to those families and evidence shows that it has had a positive impact on recruitment, retention and achievement.”
The new scheme, to be known as Bursary, will set aside £180m a year and will be targeted at those students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
West Cheshire College understands it will receive a fixed sum next academic year and it is at the college’s discretion to distribute the funds to students, specifically targeting the money to cover food, travel and equipment.
Sara Mogel added: “Whilst the replacement scheme falls short of the £575m in the EMA, we welcome the news that the scheme will target those students most in need.”
As part of the announcements, Mr Gove also confirmed that all second year students who began courses in 2009-10 will receive the full EMA of £30 a week in their final year and those who started courses in 2010-11 and received the £30 maximum a week, will get £20 a week until the end of the next academic year.
In addition, those students in care, leaving the care system, with disabilities or in receipt of income support will be guaranteed £1,200 per year if they stay in education.
Sara Mogel added: “There is now an eight-week consultation period when the finer details of the funding and administration will be determined and as soon as further information is available we will continue to pass on relevant information to potential students starting in September.”