Fairer funding for education

CAN I just ask why support for education stops at 24?

An article in the Independent reported that access course students willnowhave to apply for a loan to cover the cost of the course if they are over 24.

I am a recent graduate of the NEW College access programmewhohas been offered a place at the University of Birmingham.

As I was unemployed and not getting anywhere I got up and did something and went to college.

I still looked for work and attended every interview, but was only offered a role last week after the end of this course. The Government proposes that anyone over 24- years-old, doing an access level qualification, will have to apply for a student loan. Given the drop this year in university applicants, after the increase in fees, I do consider that this will mean that more people will be put off from applying to the NEW College access course,.

This is an outstanding course and possibly the best in the country. Students from a wide range of backgrounds have worked hard and achieved and the courses they are going on to do are nursing, teaching, social work and other health-related degrees at a wide range of universities.

These are all degrees that put back into society rather than take from it.

If this course does close not only will we have more unemployment, butwewill lose skills that may never be recovered.

In my case this course means I look forward to a life where I never need benefits again. That is a great feeling.

However, not only are loans going to be introduced, people on Jobseekers are now being told that they just cannot do this course, despite it being less than 16 hours a week and costing less than the work programme – £3,700 for access and up to £13,000 for the work programme.

If you ask the college they will tell you how successful access is, but the employment-related services association found that of the first 300,000 people on the work programme, 22 per cent found work. If you consider that the access programme is anywhere close to such a low figure you are in for a big shock and access students do not go on to low paid roles that still require housing and council tax benefit.

Students already pay towards the cost of the course, if they can, and many hold down jobs while also being single parents.

These are not scroungers.

The vast majority go on to universities and achieve good degrees. So if the question is fairer funding, can we not ask this for everyone?

David Hardy via e-mail

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