Huw Irranca-Davies MS praises Welsh Government Steps to Tackle Learning Barriers

Written by Huw Irranca-Davies MS

We are seeing a cost-of-learning crisis for many of our students in my constituency, Ogmore.  Students are feeling the financial strain – a direct result from families struggling through the cost-of-living crisis.

Concerns were highlighted at my recent advice surgery held in the Pencoed campus of Bridgend College where we were joined with a specialist advisor from the Student Loans Company.

Parental support is key to student success, and it was helpful that students could relay information about advisory and financial support back to their parents and guardians.

The Welsh Labour Government is committed to preventing money being a barrier to our young people wishing to continue in education and extensive information about available support can be found on the Welsh Government and Student Finance Wales websites.

Recent announcements from Welsh Government will be welcomed by many students in Ogmore and help towards removing some of these barriers. Such as funding to allow free appeals for economically disadvantaged learners taking general and vocational qualifications in Summer 2023.

Also, Wales being the first country in the UK to increase the Education Maintenance Allowance payment from £30 to £40 per week for eligible students.

Around 16,000 students living in low-income households across Wales receive this vital support, 700 of them living in the Bridgend County Borough and 1,460 across Rhondda Cynon Taf.

This increase – even after a tough UK Tory treasury budget again – has had strong support from many of us who have been keen to bolster the support for students who really need it most. It was such a tragedy that this was scrapped by the Tories in England, hindering the chances of those from less advantageous backgrounds who wanted to stay on in education.

Well done to Wales – and the Senedd – for keeping it and now boosting it too. What a contrast to the other side of Offa’s Dyke.

There is still lots to do to address the cost-of-learning crisis for our young people and I would encourage them to reach out to their support advisors and query what help may be available to them.