Now there’s been a lot of chat about the Education Maintenance Allowance recently. It turns out that our Government are scrapping it. Pretty much all of the press about this subject has been negative, saying it’s a bad thing, saying 70% of students will drop out if it’s scrapped.
But that’s rubbish! I’ve been against EMA ever since I first head about it because it is a total waste of money.
Now, I should point out that I never received EMA during my sixth form studies, but I know people who did. And every single person I knew who got EMA did NOT need it to continue their studies. After all, why would a student (normally still living at home) attending college need £30 per week to continue their studies. The argument is that it funded books, equipment, meals and transport. But I needed to buy no more that 5 books in the two years I was at my Sixth Form. I hardly needed £30 per week for that.
So what do students spend their money on? Well some still brought things to read, but they were more likely ‘Nuts’ than Shakespeare. Some brought equipment, but it was normally to smoke. Some brought transport, but not to and from education, it was more likely put towards petrol to drag their car wherever they wanted.
I was left to watch all this with little money to my name (as I wasn’t able to get a job until my second year of Sixth Form), wondering why the world had turned so unfair. Why were people the same age as me being funded to have fun? It made no sense.
I am a realist and I understand that some people from less well-off background do need a certain amount of funding during their sixth form/college courses. But it’s not like the government have left them with nothing. The Learners’ Support Fund is being increased to around £70m a year, aiming to help those who actually need it with their transport and studies. It may not be the £560m which was being wasted on EMA, but these are hard economic times and we need to be realistic.
As I have personally not seen a single penny of EMA spent for any educational good, I think this decision is correct. I may not agree with most things our Coalition Government have suggested, but this is the right one. The replacement may not be the complete answer, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the massive waste that was being made.