Horticultural students hit by loss of maintenance allowance

The loss of the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) will hit horticultural colleges hard, with the students at Capel Manor College alone set to lose more than £300,000 in funding.

Capel Manor chief executive Madeline Hall attended an Association of Colleges reception in Westminster on Monday (13 December) to lobby MPs to overturn their decision to abolish EMAs.

She said: "We are very concerned and we are continuing to lobby MPs on the continuation of EMAs or at least creating something that protects students continuing into their second year of training next year. People have had the benefit of EMAs this year and now suddenly they are £30 a week in the red next year - it's a real concern."

Hall said half of all the 16-18-year-old students at Capel Manor currently received EMAs with more than 90 per cent receiving the allowance at its highest rate.

"Our college students use £165,000 of EMAs towards travel and the only way they will get the money is if the Government increases our funds by £165,000," she added. "That will still leave students short of the other half of their EMAs, which is used to help with course costs and subsistence."

On increases in tuition fees for higher education, she said: "It's too early to say exactly what's going to happen because although there's the freedom to levy those fees, not all institutes will take it to the max. The concern is with what exactly can be kept going and horticulture is more expensive because of essential capital investment and running costs."

Institute of Horticulture president Sue Minter commented: "As someone who benefited from financial support to my family when I was at school, I find it particularly difficult to see this being withheld from the current generation of young people.

"But the institute does hope for some benefits to come out of the current turmoil in higher education, particularly a greater value in vocational education as in Germany."

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