I have recently taken up this issue up in Parliament, focusing on the plight of students who are currently in receipt of EMA. Following an exchange with the Minister for Higher Education in the House of Commons, I presented a survey of 10% of the 229 Lewisham College students who are part way through 2 year courses and in receipt of EMA to ministers.
These students began their courses in good faith. They qualified for up to £30 a week because their families were on low incomes or are unemployed. They’ve spent the money on travel, food, books and equipment. Equipment for some courses can cost as much as £200. These students face real hardship.
I am pleased that following representations those students who are currently receiving the full £30 per week will receive £20 in their 2nd year. But £10 a week less is a significant loss over the year and those on £20 or £10 a week will lose everything unless they are eligible in the new (much reduced) scheme. This is grossly unfair.
I will continue to work with local schools and colleges to assess the impact of the government’s recent announcements.