Grants announced for Tower Hamlets students’ university dreams

Cash-strapped teenagers in Tower Hamlets who want to go to university are set to benefit from a £1.26million grant announced by the borough’s mayor.

As part of the scheme, called the Mayor’s Higher Eduction Award, 400 students will each receive £1,500. The scheme will run over two years.

Tower Hamlets is the first council in the country to launch a higher education grant programme of this scale.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said: “Tuition fees have meant the cost of university is simply too daunting for many students in Tower Hamlets.

“This innovative new scheme is aimed at helping more of our young people realise their full potential.

“For local teenagers who thought university was a pipe dream, I hope this will change their minds.”

The awards scheme is being launched to help make higher education a more realistic prospect for young people from poorer families in the borough, encourage more to go to university and cut the number who drop out.

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At present, it is believed only one other council distributes education grants, benefiting seven students each year – so Tower Hamlets’ 400 grants is an unprecedented move by a local authority.

Cllr Oliur Rahman, Cabinet member for children, schools and families, said: “We are the first authority in the country to be backing our teenagers in such an innovative way. We know that our teenagers are our future.

“Achieving a better education is better for the student, better for the student’s family and better for the borough.”

To be eligible for funding through the Mayor’s Higher Education Award, students will need to meet certain criteria and will have to apply through the council’s benefits department.

The awards will be officially launched on July 1 and will help students who start higher education courses in September.

Currently 35 per cent of young people go into higher education. Of the 3,000 in further education, around 800 of those go on to study at university.