By Maximilian Clarke

Perspective, a leading UK provider of learning management software, has announced that an apparent drop in college enrolment figures is likely to be an affect of the loss of the education maintenance allowance (EMA).

A survey of 182 colleges conducted by the Association of Colleges found that 49 per cent of those surveyed saw a drop in applications from 16 to 19-year-old compared to the same period last year. This drop coincides with the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, and is the first time the number of enrolling students has fallen in 12 years.

It is believed that increased transport costs coupled with the scrapping of the EMA has left college education as an unaffordable option for many potential students. Colleges that reported a decline also noted that competition from other providers and cuts in funding per student were also partially to blame.

This decrease in enrolment also coincides with the government’s plans to increase the number of apprenticeships across the UK. Although reports earlier in the year indicated that the number of new apprentices had far exceeded the government’s targets, these figures don’t appear to have made a lasting impression on the 16 to 19-year-old population, with unemployment in this age group continuing to increase.

Paul Davis, managing director of Perspective, said: “This drop in enrolment clearly shows how important the EMA was in keeping students in education. The replacement bursary funding doesn’t appear to be a suitable replacement and has left potential students with no other option but to look for work amidst the currently overcrowded jobs market. It is vital we look to encourage 16 to 19-year-olds to stay in education to ensure they are suitable trained to find work during this period of high unemployment.”

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