NUS: 50,000 At risk of dropping out over student grant shambles.

A new report from the National Union of Students (NUS) shows that 60 per cent of 16-19 year olds receiving the education maintenance allowance (EMA) could no longer study if they did not receive the payment.

This comes as a reported 90,000 learners are still waiting for their EMA applications to be processed, more than a month after the start of the academic year. This leaves 50,000 learners still at risk of dropping out.

The ‘NUS EMA Survey 2008’ shows the extent to which students rely on the EMA to take part in further education.

Beth Walker, NUS Vice President (Further Education) said:

“The EMA is a vital source of day-to-day support for hundreds of thousands of students in further education. This report makes it clear that without this form of student support, the majority could no longer continue studying and would be forced drop out.

“The current delays to processing EMA applications are totally unacceptable. Students should not be put at risk with bad contracts, shoddy procedures and ropey technology, as has too often been the case in the past. There must be a full investigation into why many thousands of learners have been failed and to ensure that this situation can never occur again.

“Every year, students have to struggle through unwieldy levels of bureaucracy to obtain the EMA. This report shows the challenges they face, while reminding anyone who was in any doubt of how important this form of student support is to keeping young people in education.”

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