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Cambridge joins the fight to Bring Back EMA

At the end of a week of action from further education students and activists, students at the University of Cambridge have unfurled a banner on the city’s iconic King’s College demanding the re-instatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) – which helped thousands of students stay in school post-16.

Students have written to and picketed their MPs demanding that they sign an Early Day Motion calling for the grants to be re-introduced.

Cambridge Defend Education, the group previously behind two lengthy occupations of university premises in 2010 and 2011, joined sixth-form students from the city in taking the stand.

Lydia Knight, 17, an FE student from Cambridge studying childcare, said: “My sister got the full EMA of £30 a week, but I’ve had to work since I started college last Autumn. I know that I’m not spending as much time as I should on my studies, but I don’t have any choice.”

Babatunde Richard, 18, who is studying for A-levels, added: “I feel guilty because my mum left school at 16, now she is supporting me stay on. Both Nick Clegg and David Cameron pledged to keep EMA before the last general election, so they should never have taken it away in the first place.

“Some of my friends have left school and started work because they couldn’t afford to stay on.”

A spokeswoman for Cambridge Defend Education said: “The abolition of EMA is having a huge impact on university applications, and forcing thousands of young people to choose between their education and financial security.

“We’re taking a stand because we believe your education shouldn’t depend on your parents’ wealth.”

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