Tower Hamlets student bursary scheme closes with too many applicants

Twice as many school-leavers in London’s deprive East End have applied for grants from the local authority’s new university bursary scheme than are available.

Applications have now closed for the scheme which got an overwhelming response as soon as it was launched by Tower Hamlets council in July, in the wake of government cuts to student grants.

The Town Hall received 818 applications for just 400 grants available.

“I am concerned by the sheer numbers seeking financial help,” said Mayor Lutfur Rahman. “This lays bare how severely the government’s policies have hit students in the pocket.”

Successful applicants get £1,500 over their first two years of higher education.

A panel is now sifting through the requests for cash and are sending out letters by the end of November to all 818 applicants on whether they have been successful—but more than half will be disappointed.

Council cabinet member Oliur Rahman said: “Unfortunately we simply don’t have the money for everyone who has applied. The interest has been stunning.”

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Meanwhile, this year’s applications have opened for another Tower Hamlets bursary scheme started three years ago to encourage school pupils to stay on to sixthform, for those aged 16 to 19.