EMA replacement falls short
28 Mar 2011
The government has announced a new bursary scheme to replace the current Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA) which help 16-19 year-olds to stay on in education.
The new bursary fund is worth a total of £180 million. That is only about one-third of the funding for the existing EMA.
The new bursary scheme is made up of two parts. The first - a guaranteed payment to a small group of the most vulnerable - will receive £1,200 a year. This will cover students in care and those on income support.
The second part will be distributed at the discretion of schools and colleges. They can choose the scale and timing of the bursaries.
There are transitional arrangements for those already on EMAs. Students who started to receive EMAs from 2009/10 will continue to receive the same level of payments until the summer of 2012. But students who only started on EMAs this year, and who received the maximum of £30 a week, will now only be eligible for £20 a week until the summer of 2012.
The Universities and Colleges Union said the 'U-turn doesn't go far enough' as £390 million was being cut from allowances which meant 'thousands of students would be priced out of studying'.
The National Association of Head Teachers also highlighted the cut, accusing the government of presenting the new arrangements as 'a better deal for poorer students when in fact they constituted an overall reduction of more than 60%'.