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Education Maintenance Allowances

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Jane Davidson, Minister for Education And Lifelong Learning
Following successful pilot schemes in both England and Scotland, it has been decided that Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs), which provide means-tested financial support of between £10 and £30 for young people aged 16 to 19 in full-time education, will become available throughout both those countries from September 2004.

Evaluation of the pilot schemes has shown that EMAs significantly increased participation in post-16 education among eligible young people in the pilot areas.  EMAs have a positive effect on raising the aspirations of young people to enter FE and to stay committed to their courses and improved attendance.  The ‘something for something’ approach that underpins the EMA scheme, requiring students to enter into agreements with learning centres, encourages them to give of their best and be rewarded.

Whilst we have introduced the Assembly Learning Grant in Wales, which has clearly benefited those aged 18 and over, I do not underestimate the potential which an EMA scheme would have for encouraging young people in Wales to remain in post-compulsory education.  Following recent discussions with Treasury, it has been agreed that additional funding will be made available to enable a scheme with identical qualifying criteria and levels of awards to be introduced in Wales.  There is an opportunity to collaborate with the Northern Ireland Department for Education and Learning in developing a system for delivering EMAs in both countries and I have instructed my officials to take this forward with the aim of introducing an EMA scheme in Wales for the forthcoming academic year.

EMAs will be available to students who are undertaking at least 12 hours a week guided learning on further education courses in school sixth forms, sixth form colleges and Further Education colleges.  Eligible courses include those up to and including level 3 - AS/A2, GCSEs, NVQs and other vocational qualifications.

The £30 weekly entitlement will be available to students in households with an income of up to £19,000; £20 to those in the £19,000 to £23,000 income band; and £10 for household income up to £30,000.

Bonus payments of £100 will be paid to those who qualify in January and July of each academic year, with an additional bonus payment in September/October for those who have returned to learning for a second or subsequent year.  There will normally be a two-year period of entitlement for eligible students.

In the first year of the scheme, EMAs will be available to eligible students aged 16.  In the second year, the scheme will be extended to include 17 year old students, and students aged 18 will become eligible in the third year of the scheme.