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implementation of EMA’s replacement criticised

19 July 2011

The government announced back in October that the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) which provided means-tested grants of up to £30 a week to help young people stay on at school or college was to be scrapped. The £180 million fund which is to replace the scheme would instead be allocated by colleges at their own discretion.

An MP select committee, whilst recognising the need to scrap the EMA, has criticised the execution of its replacement. Colleges did not receive their allocations until June which is too late for this year’s cohort of 15-16 year olds starting courses in September. Most would have submitted their applications well in advance.

The new scheme has also come in for criticism and is likely to result in wide ranging inconsistencies. Savvy colleges may be able to use the fund to attract more students defeating the overall aim of the fund, that is to support those most in need. This is not likely to be the last we hear of the new bursary fund.

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