Friday, 9 March 2012

Cornish colleges offer free travel for less well off 16-18 students

Both the major colleges in Cornwall have announced that they will be offering free transport to 16-18 students from low and middle income families from September. This is partly as a result of the new Cornwall EMA. Congratulations to both Cornwall College and Truro & Penwith College for taking this action.

The Cornwall EMA (otherwise known as the Cornish Bursary scheme) is there to help less well off students who don't fall into the narrow remit of the government scheme. The aim is to ensure they can stay in education. The free travel for Cornwall College applies to students from families earning less than £31,000 per year and who live more than 3 miles from the college campus where they study. My understanding is that the T&P scheme is similar.

This idea will be a huge benefit to those students from East Cornwall who face very expensive (and long) bus rides to be able to study at a Cornish FE college.

Although this announcement looks like a good use of the money, there are some caveats. In order to genuinely help students stay in education, the money has to reflect the needs of the individual. It may be that, in some cases, free travel is not the top priority for a student. I'm keen to see what the college will offer in those circumstances. I also want to know what sort of support will be given to students who live near to the college but still need help.

The Cornwall EMA is also being rolled out through sixth forms. We await news of what they will be doing to help students.

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