Students Give New Benefits Package The Thumbs Up

Thu, 23/11/2000 - 00:00

East Durham College is delighted to unveil a raft of new benefits aimed at ensuring students continue in their studies next year and that those who are leaving school in the summer enrol on a course at the College.

The new benefits package will be available to every full time student starting at the College in September; giving them access to free transport, subsidised food, subsidised kit/uniforms, free use of the gym and sports facilities, free haircuts and free meals for those students most in need.

There will also be a new cash reward available to students based on their attendance throughout the year, as well as a new Elite Sports Scholarship Scheme for the most talented sports students.

The move is in reaction to the coalition Government’s decision back in January to scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

Principal Stuart Wesselby said: “I believe the Department of Education made the wrong decision and that disadvantaged young people in the north east will suffer as a result. Many of our learners are genuinely worried about paying for transport to college next year.

“There is also the proposal from Durham County Council to scrap all free transport for post 16 learners to be mindful of.

“We therefore felt it was vital to introduce these new student benefits to make coming to college as affordable as possible for our students.”

Under EMA further education students living in households earning less than £30,800 a year were entitled to weekly payments of between £10 and £30.

Mark Moore, Head of Customer Services at the College, said: “Over 70% of our students received EMA this year and a great number of them used it to pay for transport to get to college, so an expanded free bus service was the most important measure we could introduce.”

Local MP Grahame Morris added: “The decision of the coalition government to scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance is an attack on the aspirations of young people across the North East and flies in the face of promises to improve social mobility.

“I welcome the response of East Durham College to this difficult situation to provide their own support for disadvantaged young people to continue in education.

“Financial support for young people in education is essential for transport in an area like East Durham and I welcome the work that has been done by the College to provide free transport.”

The College will run new free buses from Middlesbrough, Stockton, Wolviston, Wynyard, Sedgefield, Trimdon, Blackhall, Consett, Stanley, Chester-le-Street, Houghton-le-Spring, Hetton, Easington Lane, Seaton Carew and Owton Manor in Hartlepool. As well as running shuttle buses both ways between its Peterlee Campus and Houghall Campus in Durham City.

These will be in addition to the free buses the College already runs from Hartlepool centre, Seaham, Sunderland, Darlington, Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor.