Sixth form allowance cuts - we get your views

07/12/10

Protests in Bristol

On Thursday, MPs will vote on whether to raise tuition fees at universities in England.

Thousands of uni students are expected to march, but they're also expected to be joined by sixth formers.

The sixth formers will be protesting coalition plans to end the Educational Maintenance Allowance, or EMA.

The EMA is a weekly payment aimed at keeping people from disadvantaged backgrounds in education.

It can mean between £10 and £30 extra a week for eligible students but is due to be scrapped in September 2011.

Many sixth-formers say they need the payment to help with transport, but others argue that lots of students don't spend their EMA on items needed for college.

Newsbeat went to Canterbury to hear sides of the argument.

Harry Fox, 16, Student.

Harry

"I get £30 and that's essential to me as I actually spend £20 on getting to college.

"The other £10 I spend on any other essentials I need.

"The EMA is a necessity for anyone living further than three miles from their campus because they need to pay for transport".

Samuel Akintokun, 16, student

Samuel

"Although the EMA may be seen as bribing people to go to college, it also lets them come to learn and achieve more.

"Some of the times that we do on my course are ridiculous - like 9am 'til 6pm.

"I don't think it's possible to get a part-time job, especially with all the course work we get too."

Sofie Twyman, 17, student

Sofie

"Before I came to college I was working and I wanted to be a chef but I needed the qualification.

"I needed the money especially because the course is quite expensive - what with all the things we need, like the knives and uniform.

"The EMA plays a big part in how we get our education. They're taking it from us and I think it could ruin a lot of people's chances."

Ben Ashman, 22, university student

Ben

"I didn't qualify for the EMA when I was younger, so I had to go out and get a part-time job to fit around my studies.

"If it's for your future then you will find a way to pay for it.

"People used to pay for their sixth form studies, so why cant they do that now?"

Ollie Banks, 20, employed.

Ollie

"The government could be right getting rid of the EMA.

"It shouldn't be the only incentive for children to be going into college and furthering their education.

"I think a lot of kids do spend it on alcohol and cigarettes - the things that they don't normally get."

Tony Hernandez, 19, employed.

Tony

"It shouldn't be the main reason why people want to further their education.

"As someone who got EMA, I can say that 90 per cent of the people that got it didn't spend it on education - they just frittered it away.

"They spent it on stuff that wasn't necessary - it's just a gimmick".