Kids face college ‘drop out’ if grants go

MOST students from poor backgrounds who are in further education in London’s East End won’t be able to continue studying if the Government scraps their �30 weekly study allowance.

These are the shock findings of a survey by Tower Hamlets College this week.

Now the college is launching a campaign to highlight the impact the proposed cuts in Education Maintenance Allowance will have on the poorest families.

The cuts will hit 3,000 students at the college, according to the survey. Some 80 per cent of those questioned doubted they would be able to attend if they no longer received the allowance, while 35 per cent said the only way they could continue would be to get a part-time job—but the recession has ‘put paid’ to part-time work.

College Principal Michael Farley and head teachers from other colleges and sixthforms are lobbying MPs and the Government.

“The allowance for many is the difference between education with a future and a life on the dole,” he said.

“We are lobbying to make a u-turn on this poor decision.

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“I am not surprised so many young people are thinking twice about whether to come to college.

“This is a time we should be investing in our young people—not cutting back.”

The allowance is claimed by 77 per cent of his students, most from large families with a maximum household income of �20,000.

The survey follows a campaign by Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali who began lobbying Government ministers in November, with the East End having one of the highest ‘take up’ rates for the allowance in London.

“This will put young people off studying,” the MP said.

“They’ve been able to get by in the past with summer jobs and part-time work—but all that’s gone in the recession.

“The maintenance allowance is important, otherwise education will go back to the old ways of university only for the wealthy. It puts us back 20 years.”

She has been swamped with letters from students about the allowance being scrapped, including some as young as 14 at Bethnal Green Technology College fearing they don’t have a future in further education when they leave school.

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