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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Education Maintenance Allowance Supports Over 32,000 Pupils and Students

Last year 32,395 young people from low income families continued their college or school studies last year after receiving support through the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) last year. In total, 31% of school pupils aged between 16 and 19 years old and 20% of full-time college students in the same age bracket received a payment.

The awards are non-repayable and available to young people from families on a low income.

Changes to increase the numbers of young people eligible for EMA support were announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP and came in to effect in January. These increased the eligible income thresholds and for the first time made support available to part-time college students.

Kenneth Gibson MSP said:

“The Education Maintenance Allowance allows tens of thousands of young people to take the decision to stay in school or further education and in doing so increase their chances of leaving school with qualifications that will help them into sustainable employment or pursue further learning or training.

“To make our society fairer education has to be our priority. We don’t want young people to feel disadvantaged if they stay in school or continue to college. We want to support young people in low income families, which is why we increased the income threshold and opened up EMAs up to even more young people. This is in direct contrast to the UK Government which scrapped the entire programme in England.

“We’re working to close the educational attainment gap in many ways. The £180 million Attainment Fund, our £500 million funding for early learning and childcare, increased targets for Modern Apprentice opportunities and enlisting experts to widen access and develop the young workforce are all helping us support families, open up education and give young people hope for their future, regardless of their background.”

EMA is an entitlement and demand led programme administered by local authorities and colleges on behalf of Scottish Ministers. A weekly payment of £30 is made to a young person, subject to attendance and an agreed learning plan.

For information on how to apply for Education Maintenance Allowance within North Ayrshire, please see:


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