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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 November 2008

Privatisation = FE college students suffer

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a means-tested weekly payment of 10, 20 or 30 to further education college students. Despite its limitations, the EMA is a vital lifeline for food, materials and other essentials for many students, but it is paid on the basis of regular attendance. This year, because of privatisation of the application process, the EMA system is in crisis.

Private contractor Liberata was paid millions by the Learning and Skills Council, the government agency responsible for allocation of EMAs, but they have failed to process students' applications in time for them to start their courses. Thousands of students have waited nine weeks for their money. For example, 200 students at Cirencester College in Gloucestershire are yet to receive any EMA.

Many students are forced to borrow money from their families. Many are dropping out of college because they cannot afford the cost of food and travel. This month an NUS survey revealed that six out of ten FE college students would drop out if they could not claim EMA.

Socialist Students calls for EMA payments to be made to all students who are owed money immediately, including backdated money. It also says that the EMA administration should be taken away from cowboy privateers like Liberata, and brought back under public ownership, along with all other privatised college services.

Socialist Students fights for an increase in the EMA, taking into account the costs of living, study and travel for all students in colleges and schools. NUS vice president for FE Beth Walker has called for an "investigation" into why Liberata was unable to process the applications. Liberata should be exposed for what they are - a greedy, parasitic private company which the government has allowed to profit out of a vital service.

The NUS should do more than call for investigations. They should organise college and university students into a campaign based on mass action against fees, cuts and privatisation and for a free, publicly funded, top quality education system at all levels. That is what Socialist Students and the Campaign to Defeat Fees fight for. Contact socialiststudents@hotmail.com for campaigning material.

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In The Socialist 19 November 2008:


No Job Cuts

'We're not taking these job cuts'

Programme of action to fight unemployment is needed

JCB: Pay cuts haven't saved our jobs!


Post office closures

U-turn over post office card account

Stroud post office saved!

Coventry fights post office closure

Lewisham housing: Arguments against privatisation win

Fast news


Socialist Party workplace news

Drop the witch-hunt in Unison fight to Defend trade union democracy

Scotland: Unison local government: Close vote on pay

Dover port workers strike

Unite/Amicus general secretary election

In brief


International socialist news and analysis

World food crisis: A systemic failure of capitalism

Democratic republic of Congo: Civil war erupts once again

G20 conference: Summit for nothing

USA: Challenging the two parties of big business

First ever all-Germany school students' strike

Eyewitness report: Italian students occupy


Socialist Students

Student democracy under attack

Privatisation = FE college students suffer


Interviews

Social workers say: investment needed

Sacked for being pregnant!


 

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