Students in a group

Wales becomes first UK country to increase Education Maintenance Allowance

The Welsh Government has announced that the Education Maintenance Allowance will increase from this month for eligible students in further education.

The increase will come in from April 2023 and will see students given an extra £10 per week. In order to qualify for the EMA, further education students’ household income must be less than £20,817 (if they are the only young person in the house) or £23,077 (if there is more than one young person in the house).

A comprehensive review into the EMA is to take place, with the increase now forming a commitment for the next two academic years. The increase will also be coupled with increased funding for the allowance of free appeals for learners who are economically disadvantaged that are taking general and vocational qualifications in the summer of this year.

Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said:

“In Wales we have continued to protect the Education Maintenance Allowance, with the increased payment helping with the reality of the cost of learning for students.

“We appreciate that the rate of EMA has not increased for some time, and during the current cost of living crisis, we understand young people are also feeling the financial strain. While we work to undertake an independent review of EMA, this raise will provide additional help to remove barriers to learning. EMA and the free appeals system for students taking exams are part of a package of support we provide in Wales to eligible students.”

There are currently 16,000 further education students that are in receipt of the Education Maintenance Allowance, with the money being paid every two weeks.

President of NUS Wales, Orla Tarn, said:

“I’m pleased that the Welsh Government has listened to students and announced a long-awaited increase to Education Maintenance Allowance.

“EMA is vital in supporting young people from low income families with the cost of further education, however, in the context of spiralling cost of living, it was clear an increase was needed to stop young learners from being priced out of education.

“There is still lots of work to do to address the cost of learning crisis. Students across Wales are facing a perfect storm of rising rent, bloated bills, massive increases in food prices, and transport costs which are forcing learners to choose between attending classes and paying for food.

“Any review of EMA should be grounded in how best to equip further education students to reach their full potential in our education system and I look forward to working with the Welsh Government to ensure that student voice is at the heart of decision making.”

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