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Milburn urges Government to help poor stay in education
THE Government must do more to help disadvantaged pupils go to university or the UK will slip behind other countries, according to the Government's social exclusion advisor, ex-Darlington MP Alan Milburn.
The former Health Secretary admitted it had been a mistake to scrap the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for poorer students in England.
He said that it was “generally regarded by universities as an initiative that encouraged progression, attainment and good study habits because of the way it was awarded”.
In an interview with The Guardian he added: “Equally, teachers have expressed concern that EMA acted as a clear incentive for young people to stay on in education, and fear that its removal may have a damaging impact.
"Independent evaluations also found that it significantly increased staying-on rates and attainment.”
The system was introduced by Labour to provide top up cash for students from poorer backgrounds to help with books and transport.
It was abolished by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, on the grounds that it was bad policy and was axed in favour of a smaller “targeted bursary” for the very poorest students.
Mr Milburn is now the Government’s independent advisor on social mobility. He stepped down as MP for Darlington at the last election.