Southwark Council pays poorer students' university fees

Students from low income families in south London can apply to have their university fees paid in a new scheme.

At least five teenagers a year, taking an arts, science or vocational degree, will have their fees paid under the Southwark Scholarship Scheme.

Students, who can start applying now, will be assessed on financial status, academic achievement and contribution to the community.

From next year English universities can charge fees of up to £9,000 per year.

To qualify, students will usually have to have been living in the borough for at least three years and have the written support of their head teacher.

Youngsters will apply to the council and a panel of experts will judge the applications based on financial status, academic achievement and contribution to the local community through sport, volunteering or faith groups.

'Future workforce'

In total, £50,000 will be spent on the scheme in 2011/12, rising to £150,000 in 2013/14.

Teenagers can start applying immediately and the first successful applicants will start university this autumn.

Southwark Council leader Peter John said following riots in the borough last week it was "more important than ever" to help young people in the area.

"One key way of doing this is through our £3m youth fund.

"This is not only an investment in young people, but is also a step to ward off the damaging effects of the recession for a generation that needs to gain the skills, experience and resilience for the future workforce."

Under the scheme, thought to be the first of its kind in the country, extra funding will also be provided to help people aged 16-24 looking for work.

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