UNISON - UCU - NUS EDUCATION MAINTENANCE ALLOWANCE : LOBBY
On Monday 13th December, from 12noon to 2pm, Trade Unionists, students, anti-cuts representatives from political parties, will gather at City College, Pelham Street, Brighton, to demonstrate their opposition to the ConDem Coalitions proposal to cut EMA.
EMA is paid to students who attend the 3 Colleges in the City, as well as 6th Forms. These young people are drawn from families on low incomes/benefits and receive up to £30 per week. They are at College to, either gain qualifications that will lead to University, or, to learn skills that will enable them to get a decent job when they finish the course/training. As an example, City College offers academic courses, or practical training in building, hairdressing and beauty. Its catering courses are nationally renowned and many young people enter the world of work with the College's fine reputation behind them.
Specifically, it should also be noted that over many years now, the Colleges have enabled youngsters with learning disabilities, behavioural problems, etc, to achieve simply amazing progress, in learning, followed by work.
The Governments proposal to cut EMA puts all these achievements at risk, will lead to the closure of whole courses, and to redundancies of skilled teachers and support staff. It is truly, the "most disgraceful cut of all", so far.
To gauge the impact on Brighton and Hove, it is estimated that of students attending City College, 50% receive EMA, 30% at Varndean College and 20% at BHASVIC.
What do students use the money for? In almost all cases it is spent on bus/train fares and lunch - it is not enough, but for the vast majority it is the difference between kids attending college, or staying at home. It is also worth noting that if the young person does not attend their classes/work placements, then they are "docked" their EMA, so the money is linked to responsibility and committment. When the last Government introduced EMA, there were many sceptics who said it was a "bribe" to get kids to stay in education. The reality has proved very different, and it is now seen, universally, as one of the most successful initiatives in further education, in the last 40 years.
The joint Trade Unions, with the tacit support of the vast majority of colleges, are launching a national campaign to persuade the Government to change its mind on EMA, and will be leafletting/getting petitions signed, across the country from Monday onwards.
Alex Knutsen, UNISON Branch Secretary, said " EMA is one of the "jewels in the crown" of futher education, enabling working-class young people to have opportunities for University and skilled employment. It is a key piece in the fabric of a decent society and should not be ended for what can only be described as ideological reasons. EMA works, young people get work, and all of us benefit.
If the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats get away with this cut, then it is purely and simply, a piece of political vandalism. All decent people instinctively know when something is wrong - and this, is wrong".
Please note - this demo is not aimed at City College, but against the Government.
For further information, please contact, Alex on 01273 291611 or 07961025930.