Dundee MSP Joe FitzPatrick today secured a re-statement by the Education Minister Michael Russell in the Scottish Parliament that the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) will continue to support teenagers in full-time education at institutions such as Dundee College and that there are no plans to alter or amend the scheme.
The Dundee West MSP was questioning the matter after questions had been raised about the future of EMAs, which have recently been scrapped in England.
The EMA is a Scottish Government initiative to support students to gain qualifications that will enhance their future job prospects. The scheme is administered by Dundee City Council Education Department and its continuation was announced by John Swinney in the Scottish Budget on 17 November.
The Education Minister today reassured all MSPs that the Scottish Government had fully-funded the scheme which he regarded as ‘highly-effective’ and ‘effectively-targetted’ and would protect it to continue supporting the least well-off 16-19 year-old students in Scotland. He welcomed the support of the NUS for retention of the initiative.
Joe FitzPatrick said: “I am pleased that the Education Secretary has confirmed to me today the perceived effectiveness of EMAs and that no changes are planned to the scheme, contrary to various scaremongering stories being put about by opposition groups.
“Currently, 39,000 young people in Scotland are receiving an EMA including many in Dundee. It is a useful support measure to allow students to continue in full-time education at school or at Dundee College.
“A weekly allowance of £30 is paid to eligible students who stay on at school after compulsory education. This is payable in arrears on a two weekly basis providing the student has achieved a 100% attendance for each week and has made suitable progress and good conduct.
“In difficult times, the Scottish Government are targetting resources where they make the most impact and continuing to support this valuable scheme which the Tory-Lib Dem UK Government has now abandoned.”
“The initiative is a useful measure giving help where it is needed, and we know that it is popular with young people, allowing them to stay on and make themselves more employable when they enter the jobs market.”