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Government tells students to "aim lower"

Thursday 25-11-2010 - 00:00

The National Union of Students (NUS) today condemned an announcement by Universities Minister David Willetts that the Aimhigher university access scheme would be abolished.

The Minister announced the decision at a Universities UK (UUK) funding conference in London as MPs prepare to vote on proposals to treble tuition fees to £9,000 and the Government seeks to abolish the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the poorest college and sixth form students.

NUS said the already announced £150 million for university scholarships would be outweighed by cuts of £450 million to the EMA budget which it is paid to poorer college and sixth form students aged 16-19 in order to access education.

Aaron Porter, NUS President said:

"Ministers are sending the miserable message to students and their families that rather than aim higher, they should aim lower."

"Attempts to triple tuition fees, slash education budgets, and remove the EMA from poorer college students whilst simultaneously pulling the plug on Aimhigher will give further cause to those who believe this Government wish to restrict education to a narrow elite. These measures would put up barriers to those from poorer backgrounds and dent the ambitions of young people."

"Most people agree that one of the most important ways to get kids into university is to improve their exam results, so investing £150m on higher education scholarships whilst cutting three times that amount - £450m out of the EMA that helps poorer families pay for books or travel before university would be laughable if only it didn't threaten so many life chances."

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