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In the UK, as of the start of January, the government has cut the Education Maintenance Allowance, as part of a wider program of spending cuts. The Allowance used to provide 16 to 18-year-olds, who continue with their education, with up to £30 pounds per week for living expenses. Students were on the streets in London at the weekend in their first large-scale demonstration of the year, protesting the EMA and other cuts to the education budget.
Students are marching through London to protest reductions in government spending on college and university level education. University tuition fees are set to increase from the current maximum of three-thousand pounds a year, up to a maximum of nine-thousand pounds a year, while EMAs or Education Maintenance Allowances may be cut altogether.
EMAs are means tested grants provided to school and college level students, which range from £10 a week to £30 a week. The EMA was introduced by the previous Labour government to help poorer students get through sixth form college, yet critics claim the money is more likely to be spend on alcohol and parties.
The student movement has been supported by various organizations. We spoke to Claire Laker-Mansfield, organizer of Youth Fight for Education, earlier in the week to talk about why the EMA is important to young people.
[Claire Laker-Mansfield, Organizer, Youth Fight for Education]:
“We are protesting because we want to save EMA. We think it’s unfair that while bankers in the city are getting millions of pounds worth of bonuses, it’s ordinary school and college students who are going to find themselves unable to continue with their education. We think the government should be funding the future of young people.”
Jennifer Knotley, NTD News, London