Published on May 8, 2013 | by Cecilia Sundström

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Students petition against EMA cuts

UAL students joined forces with a national campaign to restore grants for higher education students from low-income families.

“Bring Back EMA” read the cupcakes that students from LCC, CSM and Camberwell offered during the cross-college day of action to raise awareness of the scrapped Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

Students gathered at the campuses with banners and outrage, as they campaigned for more people to sign the petition, against the government cut.

Shelly Asquith, president of  SUARTS, the UAL students union, said: “I received EMA while I was in sixth form and I wouldn’t have come to CSM if it was not for the EMA.

“I find it upsetting that its removal has contributed to an increased drop-out rate on Foundation courses, not to mention fewer young people across the country staying on in education.”

According to the BBC, the scheme was abolished because it was thought to be too expensive and poorly targeted.

A ‘Bring Back EMA’ Early Day Motion has been signed by 63 MPs where campaigners hope for the issue to be debated in the House of Commons.

Shelly Asquith said: “Ultimately we want to bring back a funding support system for further education students.

“This doesn’t have to look like the old EMA – in fact I would like to see bigger grants, available to all learners not just those who are 16 – 19.”

The National Union of Students (NUS) Vice-President Toni Pearce said the NUS campaigned hard against the scrapping and last year the union had carried out research showing that students are struggling with the economy.

She said: “It is having a real impact on their ability to concentrate on, or in some cases even continue, their studies.”

EMA, which is paid fortnightly to 16-19 year-olds from low-income households, is still available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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