Government accused of ‘total failure’ to widen elite university access

From the Guardian: Ministers have been accused of a “total and abject failure” to widen access to top universities for disadvantaged students, after analysis by the Labour party found the proportions attending Russell Group universities had increased by only one percentage point since 2010.

Separately, research by a group of Labour MPs suggests pupils from towns are less likely to attend university than those from London, with a nine percentage point gap between pupils from London and the rest of the country, and a 20-point gap between those from low-income families in the capital and in towns.

Labour said the Russell Group, which includes Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College London and Imperial College, had failed to recruit students from neighbourhoods where few traditionally enter higher education.

The party’s analysis of the Higher Education Statistics Agency data found the proportion of students from those areas had increased by one percentage point across all Russell Group universities to 6%, less than half that at non-Russell Group institutions.

Labour said it was clear the Department for Education would not reach the target set in 2013 by the then prime minister, David Cameron, to double the proportion of university entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2020.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

These statistics show the true cost of the Tory housing crisis for young people

From Left Foot Forward: Figures on the state of the home ownership market in England, published by the Office of National Statistics, reveal rapidly worsening affordability problems, putting buying a home beyond most young people.

The affordability ratio calculated by ONS shows that the average house price was 7.9 times average annual earnings in 2017 – the largest ever recorded and more than double that of 1997.

To achieve levels of affordability last seen two decades ago – the average house price in 1997 being 3.5 times average earnings – would require that today’s average earnings would need to double to almost £66,000 annually.

Put another way, average earnings would have to increase by around 3% every year for the next four decades, while the average house price stayed constant at today’s level, for 1997 levels of affordability to be reached once more.

[Read full article on Left Foot Forward…]

One in 12 young people are working in zero-hours jobs

From Morning Star: Zero-hours contracts have risen to nearly two million in Britain, with one in 12 young people working uncertain hours.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the figures, published today, increased from 1.7m to 1.8m in the year to last November and represents 6 per cent of all contracts.

Of these, the ONS has reported, 901,000 workers are on zero-hours contracts as some are forced to work more than one.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Most people are not on zero-hours contracts by choice. They want the same rights, security and guaranteed hours as other employees.

“More than half of zero-hours contract workers have had jobs cancelled with less than a day’s notice. Zero-hours contracts are a licence to treat people like disposable labour and the government should ban them.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Number of zero-hours contracts in UK rose by 100,000 in 2017 – ONS

From The Guardian: The number of zero-hours contracts in use across the UK rose by about 100,000 last year, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics, said the number of employment contracts without a minimum number of guaranteed hours increased to 1.8m in the year to November, up from 1.7m in 2016.

People on zero hours contracts are more likely to be young, women, students or those in part-time employment. Although some like the potential flexibility, about a quarter of people want to work more hours, compared with only 7.3% of people in other forms of employment.

A survey from the TUC found more than half of workers on zero-hours contracts have had shifts cancelled less than 24 hours before they were due to begin.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Apprenticeships fall by 59%

From The Guardian: Employers and unions have called for a rethink of the Tory government’s apprenticeship policies after a 59% fall in those taking up trainee posts since a new scheme was launched in April.

Just 48,000 people started an apprenticeship in the final three months of the educational year to July 2017, compared with 117,800 in the same period a year before. The biggest drop came in the lowest level “intermediate” apprenticeships, which dived by 75%, compared with a 48% drop in the most advanced training courses.

Critics of the scheme say the increased costs and complexities are deterring employers from creating apprenticeship posts.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Zero-hours contracts are ‘bad for your health’, says study

From Welfare Weekly: Young people on zero-hours contracts are less likely to be in good health and more likely to suffer from mental health problems, according to the findings of a new study published today.

Researchers from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, based at the University College London, analysed data from more than 7,700 people living in England who were born in 1989-90 as part of its ‘Next Steps‘ study.

Those aged under the age of 25 and in zero-hours employment were less likely to report they were feeling healthy, when compared to those in secure employment.

Zero-hours employment is notoriously insecure and the contracts offer no guarantee of hours, and those on the contracts are often denied the same rights as other workers in more secure employment.

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One in seven UK private tenants pays more than half income in rent – study

From The Guardian: One in seven tenants privately renting from a landlord is paying more than half of their income in rent, compared with just 2% of homeowners who pay more than half their income on their mortgage, according to new research.

The Local Government Association, which compiled the figures, said high rents were preventing young adults from saving up for a deposit for a home of their own. It said the average deposit now cost 71% of a first-time buyer’s annual income.

The research also found that four out of 10 private tenants spend more than 30% of their pay on rent, compared with only 11% of those with a mortgage.

Councillor Judith Blake, LGA housing spokesman, said: “When one in seven private renters is spending half their income on rent, it’s no wonder we have a rental logjam – with a shortage of homes with genuinely affordable rent, and young people struggling to have enough income left over to save for a deposit

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

“Scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance was a mistake”

Shakira Martin, President-elect of NUS, writes on FE Week: Scrapping the education maintenance allowance scheme in England was a mistake. Plain and simple. The coalition government did a U-turn on their education policy centred on ‘fairness and equality of opportunity for all’. Against all their rhetoric it took away from those who needed the help most. Labour’s commitment to reinstating the scheme if elected next month are a step in the right direction on the road to recovery for FE.

EMA made a significant difference to those from low-income backgrounds, covering essentials such as food, books and transport. It wasn’t perfect but it eased educational disadvantage and scrapping it has had major repercussions on students from lower-income families. At the time of implementation in 2004, financial constraints were seen as a barrier to involvement in post-16 education, it aimed to directly reduce the cost of education as a means for raising their participation (including influencing retention and attainment).

Many students were struggling then, and they’re still struggling now. We know from our own research that many find it difficult to cover their course costs with half stating that they had considered dropping out due to financial worries. This manifesto finally says to post-16 learners that our politicians are ready to invest in young people again and provide a real ladder to opportunities, skills and jobs.

[Read full column on FE Week website…]

High youth unemployment leaves £45bn hole in UK economy

From Daily Telegraph: High youth unemployment is costing the British economy £45bn per year, according to research from PwC, as well as blighting the careers of workers who miss out on a job in their teens and twenties. The proportion of 16- to 24-year olds not in education, employment or training – known as NEETs – is also uncomfortably high at 17pc.

[Read full article on Telegraph website…]

 

First-time buyers need a £33k deposit to get onto the property ladder and a quarter now stretch mortgages to 35 years

From Daily Mail: The plight of first-time buyers has reached a new level as new research suggests they now need a deposit worth £33,000 on average, while the amount they pay for a home has never been higher.

[Read full article on Daily Mail website…]

EMA Scrapping: What it means for you

From FundingEducation: The scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has been one of the most controversial moves made by the Tory-led government. It has attracted criticism from opposition politicians, student groups and teachers, many of whom have suggested that it will put students from poorer backgrounds off continuing their education.

The scheme is now closed. Many students are concerned about how this will affect their plans for college and other further education. So what does the scrapping of EMA mean for you?

EMA is a grant that was provided to students between the ages of 16 and 19, whose parents were deemed to be on low incomes. In order to be eligible for EMA the student needed to be undertaking a further education course of at least 12 hours a week, in an FE college, sixth form college, or school sixth form.

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What impact has scrapping EMA had?

From BBC News: There were major protests earlier this year when the government voted to get rid of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in England.

Now the Association of Colleges (AoC) says nearly half of England’s colleges have taken on fewer students this term.

It claims the decision to scrap EMA is one of the main reasons, as some students are worried about the cost of getting to and from college.

The Education Maintenance Allowance allowed teenagers from poorer families to claim up to £30 a week to stay in education. It was supposed to cover transport, food and equipment costs.

Jeremy Rogers, Principal of Cadbury Sixth Form College in Birmingham, thinks scrapping the EMA was a huge mistake: “It’s had a devastating impact. About 300 young people who would have come to us, have not come to us.”

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Students hit by scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance

From The Guardian: When the education secretary, Michael Gove, was interviewed by Education Guardian readers before the general election, he flatly denied that the education maintenance allowance (EMA) was for the chop, saying: “Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping the EMA. I have never said this. We won’t.”

So it was a surprise to many to hear, in last week’s spending review, that the EMA was to be among the casualties. The allowance, which dates back to 1944, was revised by the Labour government into a means-tested national scheme supporting young people from lower-income families in 16-19 education. The chancellor, George Osborne, said the £30 weekly payment was to be replaced by “more targeted support”, though he did not say what.

And while the government claims it is putting more money into education for school-aged children, 16- to 19-year-olds appear to have been left out in the cold. As well as abolishing the EMA, the government plans to reduce the amount of funding per student for sixth-formers.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]