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Government U-turn on EMA replacement doesn't go far enough

28 March 2011

UCU today said that new financial support for poorer college students doesn't go far enough.

The union said that while it welcomed the news that students currently receiving the top band of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) would continue to receive some financial support, it was disappointed that this amount was being lowered from £30 to £20 and that EMA recipients currently receiving £20 and £10 would miss out entirely.
UCU pointed to the fact that £390m is being cut from supporting poorer students following the abolition of the EMA and warned that many who need help would be priced out of studying.
Last year over 600,000 students received the EMA, with 80% (those whose household income is less than £20,800) receiving the full £30 weekly allowance.
From September, only 12,000 new students who are either disabled, in care or from families on income support will be guaranteed funding. Others will be forced to will apply to a discretionary fund managed by individual colleges.
A UCU survey of EMA recipients, published in January, revealed that 70% would drop out of college if the financial aid was removed, and the union said that despite promises of 'targeted support' many could still be faced with that choice. More information on that story can be found here.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'While I'm pleased that the government has committed to continuing financial support for current EMA recipients and for families on income support, their U-turn doesn't go far enough. For all the talk of more targeted support the bottom line is that £390m is being cut from allowances and we still face the prospect of thousands of poorer students being priced out of studying."
'While it is good that pupils from families on income support will be guaranteed funding many future students, who would currently qualify for the EMA, will be left without the assistance they need to stay on at college.'
Last updated: 11 December 2015