Protests against the axing of the weekly college allowance kick off in East End

EAST End lecturers and students will march to central London today in protest at the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) and students are angry about the latest round of government cuts which will take away the weekly payments for 16 to 18-year-olds in college and sixth form.

The protesters will head to Westminster’s Department for Education headquarters later this afternoon to lobby against the cuts.

The allowance – which is set to be axed as of next September – gives payments from �10 to �30 a week for the poorest students.

Around 70 per cent of pupils at Tower Hamlets College, in Poplar High Street, currently receive it.

Richard McEwan, lecturer and joint secretary of Poplar UCU, said: “Axing the EMA will mean students are �3,320 down over two years. It’s money for books and materials and it’s important if you’re a teenager with no job.

“It’s not like they can fund their studies in other ways. Kids are desperate for part-time work. There are hundreds of students scrambling for one job in my classes.”

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This latest round of protests comes after the march against the trebling of university tuition fees in central London last week.

Around 40 lecturers from Tower Hamlets College – a record number to have attended protests in recent years – headed to the event.

Alison Lord, a lecturer at the college, said: “Tower Hamlets will be really badly affected if the EMA is scrapped.

“Most kids wouldn’t be afford the travel into college, the books, paper and lunch.”

Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali recently lobbied the government in parliament over the proposed scrapping of the fund, arguing it would hit poorer boroughs like Tower Hamlets hard.