11 February 2011

The Right Honourable Simon Hughes MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and the recently appointed Government Adviser on Access to Higher Education/ Widening Participation ‘Tsar’ visited the College on Friday 11th February to consult with a group of students.

The student representatives spent an hour with Mr Hughes where he was very keen to hear their views on a range of educational issues which will directly affect them and future students.

Mr Hughes asked students about EMA.  He asked what the money is spent on and heard how it supports travel, food and buying equipment.  He also asked about whether the withdrawal of EMA would have affected their decision to continue in education post 16.   The students present had clear aspirations and career goals and knew that a degree is necessary for the choices they have made but they did feel that the withdrawal of EMA without any suitable replacement could become a significant factor in a student’s decision to continue in education.

Mr Hughes then went on to seek views on what the students consider to be the most appropriate age for young people to start getting careers advice, whether students feel that there is a benefit to going away to university rather than staying local and how to get a positive across the message to young people and parents about the costs associated with university. 
The students gave Mr Hughes plenty to think about and made a valuable contribution to his research.
This group of Birkenhead Sixth Form College students have now got the opportunity to work with Mr Hughes to keep him informed on their views and continue to make suggestions for him to feed back into Government -a great chance for them to influence future policy perhaps?