Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/637/10193
Con-Dems threaten EMA
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a weekly wage that students in further education get. It is designed to help pay for things such as bus fares, course materials and other necessities for studying. For many, this makes the difference between being able to attend education and not.
Ryan Preston, North-West Leeds Socialist Party
EMA pays between £10 and £30 a week and the amount that you are granted is dependent upon your household income. At present you can receive £30 a week for an income of up to £20,817, £20 for up to £25,521 and £10 for up to £30,810. Any student who comes from a household where the income is over this amount is not eligible for EMA.
This is a very flawed way to determine who should be granted extra support as it doesn't take into account any other expenditure that parents may have such as other children or mortgages.
Furthermore, the means testing system makes a lot of paperwork and red tape for students, parents and schools and colleges.
Although EMA makes a huge difference to a lot of students, it can often not be enough, with many college students also working in part-time jobs.
For some students it is the only source of income that they have and £30 a week doesn't stretch far. For example, a day bus ticket can cost up to £4 so students can be left with hardly anything after just paying to get to college!
If the cuts to EMA are carried out it will have a massive effect on the number of students who can attend. For example, when the EMA was slashed by a huge 20% in Scotland, NUS Scotland estimates that over 8,000 students had to drop their studies due to financial difficulties.
The government has already attacked EMA by scrapping the two 'bonuses' of £100 each student used to get at the end of the first and third term.
They are also considering lowering the weekly amount paid per person so that many students will receive £10 less than they currently do.
Instead of cutting EMA, the government should be providing all students with a grant big enough to cover their full living costs.
Every young person has the right to attend post-16 education and we must campaign in every college and sixth form across the country to make sure this is defended.
In The Socialist 9 September 2010:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review