Cllr Cadbury and Shadow Secretary visit West Thames College
Discussions covered student funding, childcare and employment
Ruth Cadbury, councillor and prospective labour candidate for Isleworth at the General Elections, and Rachel Reeves, Member of Parliament for Leeds West, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions visited West Thames College this week.
The aim of the visit was to see the college and meet local students to determine issues affecting the students and how the college worked to assist employability.
On the forefront of discussion was lowering fees for students aged 19+.
One of the students stated “For me it was a huge shock being told I had to pay for education aged 19. I am already £7000 in debt and I haven’t even started university!”
“I believe there is added pressure on us, especially when we have children to care for and other expenses to worry about. I have to work as well as go to college to subsidise my course, some of my friends are even resorting to taking out loans”.
This led onto more discussion on the difficulty of finding suitable paid work and paying for childcare and travel.
Zobair Shirzad, 19 from Southall mentioned “Regarding expenses in travel, anybody over 19 can’t apply for a student oyster cards”.
“There is a lack of paid work in our area, and even when we do find jobs, they are minimum wage. Some employers don’t allow flexible hours to work around our college courses”.
Rachel Reeves commented “One of our intentions is to support students aged 18-21 who are in education with a fund similar to job seekers allowance. At the moment people aged 18+ can get job seekers allowance but this is not the case for students who are in education for more than 16 hours a week”.
In regards to childcare provisions, Joanna Nandingna, from Hounslow stated “We don’t get enough childcare and the amount you get free is dependent on wages; my partner works fulltime, therefore I get no help towards my childcare”.
“We don’t necessarily need money; we just want help with childcare so we can continue to study”.
Ruth Cadbury spoke on issue involving childcare, “We want to increase childcare provision for children aged 2 and 3. We also want to support schools to offer extended schools hours. At the moment schools have to fund this which they can’t necessarily afford to do. This is why it is currently not being offered in many schools.”
September 11, 2014