Participation by 16-19 year olds in education and training - Education Contents

Annex 2: Summary of submissions received via

How EMA is used

  • EMA is used to help cover the cost of rent, books, utilities, food, clothes (e.g. school uniform for sixth form) and equipment by those pupils whose families are otherwise unable to afford such items. Some students are concerned that they will not be able to learn if they cannot afford a meal at lunchtime
  • EMA helps towards the costs of computers and internet access

How EMA is used: transport

  • EMA covers transport costs that would otherwise be unmanageable for families - travel often cost £25 or more weekly
  • Not having EMA would restrict severely the choices of courses and colleges available to prospective students. If EMA is stopped, free travel or a travel grant should be put in place
  • Pupils unable to pay travel costs are likely to have poor attendance as they face long walks to and from college
  • The cost of transport to school is much higher in rural areas where the journeys are longer. The EMA has been used in effect to subsidise that higher cost.

Disadvantaged groups

  • A large proportion of pupils with learning difficulties come from low income households and so would be disproportionally affected.
  • Young carers will be adversely affected by the loss of the EMA
  • The loss of EMA would affect single parents on low incomes and young people living independently.
  • The loss of EMA will mean that less well off students may have to take part time jobs, which would reduce their study time and put them at a disadvantage to better off students

Non-financial benefits of EMA

  • The EMA allows young people to set and manage their own budget; those financial management skills will be crucial to them as they reach adulthood
  • EMA provides an incentive to attend college on time and to focus on studying. The loss of EMA could result in behavioural issues for those who lose that focus; the principle of payment only if you attend prepares students for how employers see things
  • EMA has improved retention rates and colleges' "success" rates
  • EMA enables low income families to see further education as an option for them. If replaced with a welfare grant distributed by FE institutions, the lack of guaranteed funding as a 'safety net' would deter some families from applying for courses, leading to low aspirations
  • The provision of EMA shows less advantaged students that wider society does care about them and that they do have a stake in our society
  • EMA has provided a means for some young people to participate in extracurricular activities that will enhance their university application. Without EMA, such opportunities would be lost to them
  • EMA is an incentive for families to encourage children to study rather than to think of children as free childcare for younger siblings
  • Removal of EMA was having a "massive" impact on motivation

Loss of EMA: impact on FE and HE institutions

  • The loss of EMA will put pressure on FE institutions to support students financially by cutting back in other areas. This will put pressure on the pay and conditions of FE staff
  • The loss of EMA will have an impact on the less well subscribed courses that currently attract students from a wide catchment. If those students are unable to pay for transport, such courses will be unviable, leading in turn to redundancies for staff
  • The proposed enhanced learner support fund would place a greater administration burden on colleges
  • Loss of EMA would make it harder for HE institutions trying to expand their participation base

Other predicted outcomes of the loss of EMA

  • If poorer students are not supported financially, the cost to society will be greater in the long term through payment of benefits, demands on health services and the impact on the criminal justice system
  • If EMA is stopped halfway through a course, some students might have to drop out of FE and abandon aspirations to go on to higher education. Some have already made the decision to drop out when EMA stops
  • Removal of EMA was deterring people from FE and was encouraging them to apply for Apprenticeships purely for financial reasons

Other issues raised

  • Lowering the income level needed to claim EMA would be preferable to scrapping it altogether. In addition, stopping the bonus EMA payments would reduce costs
  • There is a need to ensure that funds are directed to those who need it, and to ensure that it is not seen as a bonus for those pupils who can manage financially
  • Withdrawal of EMA coincides with the removal of Aimhigher
  • Has any equality impact assessment that has been carried out on this issue?

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 19 July 2011