City College principal warning over poorest students

The poorest students need financial support through these tough economic times, City College Norwich principal Dick Palmer warned last night, as the Norfolk business community dug deep at a charity auction.

At the event to raise cash for the Student New Opportunities Fund, Mr Palmer warned of the impact the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, cuts to transport subsidies and other youth services and increases in university fees were already having on hard-up students.

Members of the business community were treated to a lavish meal at the college's Debut Restaurant before bidding for lots, including two tickets to the filming of the BBC's panel show QI and a chat with Stephen Fry, to a 12 person box for a Norwich City Premier League match. Mr Palmer said big fundraisers like the auction would become more important and commonplace.

'The position has changed this year,' he said. 'Students are facing the withdrawal of EMAs. There are 2,500 students at the college who are in receipt of the EMAs. For some of them it is worth �30 a week. They are also facing a reduction in the subsidy for transport.

'We live in a rural county. More than 50pc of our students come from outside the city and they have to travel to the college.

'Young people are also facing changes to service delivery. Connexions has gone and youth service has gone from the county council so they are not getting the support mechanisms.

'It is harder to get a job. You invest all this time and money on transport and you do not easily walk into a job. These are tough times so we have got to find ways to reduce costs for students,' he said.

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More events are set to held by the college to raise money for the fund.

'Over the next three to five years this is going to be more common. I think we will find people follow,' said Mr Palmer. 'It is undoubtedly tough for students now and they are our future.'

More than �15,000 was raised before the event through online bids.

Do you have an education story? Call Steve Downes on 01263 513920 or email steve.downes@archant.co.uk

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