Press release

Independent report on 16 to 19 bursary fund published

The Department for Education today published the interim report of NatCen's independent evaluation of the 16 to 19 bursary fund.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Independent research out today says the majority of further education (FE) and sixth-form colleges and schools say the new 16 to 19 bursary fund is ‘effective’.

The research from NatCen Social Research looked at the first year of the bursary fund, which has replaced the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). It found that:

  • 73% of FE and sixth-form colleges and 61% of school sixth-forms think the bursary is having a positive impact on participation
  • 84% of FE and sixth-form colleges and 61% of school sixth-forms think the bursary is effective in targeting those with the greatest financial need

The 16 to 19 bursary fund, introduced in 2011, provides financial support for the most disadvantaged young people, some of whom would not otherwise be able to participate in further education and training. It is worth £180 million a year.

The report also showed that:

  • the proportion of successful applications for discretionary bursaries was very high, with 50% of providers reporting that all applications were successful
  • virtually all providers attached one or more conditions to the receipt of bursaries, with 96% using attendance as a condition. Also, 63% attached behaviour conditions

Providers also praised the flexibility of the bursary fund, saying it enabled them to give financial support to young people who rely on it to continue their education or training.

The government will use the findings of NatCen’s series of reports to refine the delivery of the bursary further.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

Many young people rely on bursaries to continue their education and training. I am delighted that many providers believe the bursary fund helps with participation by young people, and targets financial support to those who need it most.

We will use the findings of this interim report, and NatCen’s final report, to keep improving the bursary so disadvantaged young people are supported to fulfil their aspirations.

Consultation on allocations methodology

The government is also today consulting on proposals to continue to improve the way the discretionary 16 to 19 bursary fund is allocated, using the most up-to-date information on the pupil premium to target it at the young people who need it most.

The consultation proposes:

  • using past eligibility for the pupil premium to measure how many disadvantaged students providers have on their rolls
  • giving providers a larger allocation for the relatively small number of students who live in a rural area and are also eligible for the pupil premium. This reflects the fact that institutions with disadvantaged rural students face greater pressure on their budgets to contribute to students’ transport costs, but will not divert significant funds from other areas

The changes would take effect for the 2014 to 2015 financial year.

Julian Gravatt, Assistant Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:

The AoC welcomes this consultation on the distribution of bursary funding which is based on wide range of research and analysis undertaken by the Department for Education. The first interim evaluation report will also be useful for the department, colleges and schools in improving the scheme.

The consultation is open until 12 July and can be accessed on the department’s e-consultations page.

Notes to editors

  • the report from NatCen draws on management information sent in by 2,204 providers, a survey of 753 16 to 19 providers and 27 qualitative in-depth interviews
  • NatCen is an independent social research agency contracted by the department to evaluate the bursary fund. Their interim evaluation report is available on the department’s research page
  • the consultation is available on the Department for Education’s e-consultations page
  • the pupil premium is additional funding given to schools to help them improve the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils aged 5 to 16. It is allocated for each pupil who has been known to be eligible for free school meals (FSM) at any point during the last 6 years
  • it is worth £1.875 billion in 2013 to 2014, or £900 per pupil. In 2014 to 2015 it will go up to £2.5 billion a year
  • the Education Funding Agency will stagger the implementation of the new methodology to give providers time to adapt to their allocations
  • local authorities have a legal duty to make arrangements for transport that they consider necessary to enable young people to attend post-16 education. Building a transport factor into the bursary fund does not replace this key role, but may help disadvantaged students pay for local authority travel charges where they apply

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Published 17 May 2013