Students aged 16-19 enrolling this September at Bishop Auckland College could qualify for a £500 college allowance along with a host of other benefits, including free travel, free meals, and free childcare.
Additional financial support includes help with course study costs, such as equipment and uniforms, and vouchers for stationery, with other incentives including free gym membership and free hair and beauty treatments.
The college has topped up the allocation made available from the Government’s new £180m Bursary Fund to pay for the new support package. The national Bursary Fund provides £1,200 a year for young students from disadvantaged backgrounds or who have certain disabilities.
Principal Anne Isherwood said the move was essential to ensure school leavers from less affluent backgrounds were not put off further education as a result of the scrapping of the £540m Education Maintenance Allowance, which paid eligible students with a family income below £30,000 up to £30 per week.
She said: “Over half of our students were this year awarded EMA grants, which shows just how important this financial support is. We don’t want young people being deterred from giving themselves a great chance in life because they are worried they can’t afford to come to college.
“With a bursary of up to £500, free travel, free meals, free childcare and additional support for other study costs we believe we have a comprehensive support package in place which should ensure everyone, whatever their background, can take advantage of our superb facilities and teaching.”
Mrs Isherwood has written this week to 6,500 16-19 year olds living in the college’s catchment area, which includes some of the most deprived wards in the country, to highlight the new support measures and the 150 courses on offer for 2011/12.
The college is also opening its doors next Tuesday (July 12) at 5.30pm, where tutors will be able to give advice on available courses and offer a tour of the £32m Woodhouse Lane campus, which opened in 2008.
The new build includes impressive new sound recording, music & performing arts facilities, construction and motor vehicle training workshops, salons, and a sports hall.
Courses on offer this September range from Art & Design, Beauty Therapy and Hairdressing, to Construction and Engineering, IT, Travel & Tourism and Music & Performing Arts, with Foundation courses enabling progression to Higher Education.
Eligibility criteria for the Bishop Auckland College financial support package is based on household income but it is estimated that at least half of the new 16-19 full time student intake in September will qualify for the £500 allowance and the other free benefits.
Payment would be in instalments and on condition certain requirements are met including attendance.
Any school leavers wanting to find out more about enrolling at the college should visit www.bishopaucklandcollege.ac.uk or simply turn up next Tuesday between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
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