STUDENTS fear a two-tier education if funding is cut.
Kirklees College students criticised government plans to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
And they also criticised an unfair system of free bus travel – with some colleges getting journeys for free while students at others, including Kirklees College, don’t.
They asked Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman to look into the variations when he met them yesterday to get their opinions.
They were clear in their message – claiming it could prevent some students going to college.
Kirklees College say 2,660 out of 3,403 (78%) students aged 16-18 get EMA – 90% of those receive the top £30 weekly payment.
Sabreena Rehman, 17, gets £30 a week EMA and Louise Cooney, 24, and Hayley McIntyre, 21, both get a £10 Adult Learning Grant (ALG), which is given to students aged over 19.
All three Public Services students have a year and a half to go before the end of their course.
Louise, who works part time and has her own home in Lepton, said: “I think they’ve gone into it a bit blind. They are not looking deep enough into how much it’s going to affect families.
“It will create a two-tier system because the students whose parents can support them will be able to pay for books and the residential trips which are part of the course. Those from lower income families, who get the EMA, won’t be able to do that.”
Sabreena, who lives with her retired parents in Dewsbury, said: “I have to pay £25 a week to travel to college. If my EMA goes, where does the money come from?
“Employers want people with a good education and experience – we’re trying to get that.”
Hayley, also of Dewsbury, said: “I pay £17 a week for a student bus pass and I get £10 a month. It’s not a lot but it helps towards my travel costs. What’s plan B if they cut our funding?”
All three have taken part time or Christmas jobs to earn extra money, but Louise said many students have been unable to get jobs to fund their studies.
Learner Support Fund (LSF) also provides support for needy students, but the available funds are much lower and could not replace the EMA of all students.
For the 2010-11 academic year, Kirklees College’s LSF allocation is around £74,000. The EMA payments for the college’s students would total around £2.9million.
Huw Thomas, director of student services, said: “The college is still waiting for clarification on how it can support the students immediately affected by the abolition of EMA and would welcome any support that leads to official guidance on funding for students this academic year.”