The tuition fees of one University of Sussex student are being paid by his local council in a new scheme encouraging young people to study at university.
William Camfield, 18, from Borough in London, has received a scholarship worth over £10,000 from Southwark Council to study Economics.
“This award will make life so much easier for me as a big financial weight has been lifted”, William said.
Thought to be the first programme o its kind, six students from lower income families in Southwark were given scholarships to cover their tuition costs.
In one of the most deprived areas in the country, Southwark Council fear higher tuition fees will put young people off going to university.
Many universities are increasing their fees to £9,000, over half the average annual household income in Southwark of £17,000, compared to the national average salary of £25,000.
“I am delighted that we will be funding the full tuition fees for six great students starting this year and for others starting in future years” Cabinet Member for Child Services Catherine McDonald said.
Only people from families living on a household income of under £21,000 were considered for the scholarships. Applicants were assessed by their financial status, academic achievement and contributions to the community, through faith groups, sport or volunteering.
William described his successful funding bid as “tremendous news” and spoke of his feeling of “great relief” knowing he could go to university without being saddled with thousands of pounds of debt. Having previously attended the prestigious Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College in New Cross, William studied Economics, History and Maths at A-Level.
William said he was settling well into university life: “I have enjoyed meeting new people. I get on really well with my housemates, thoroughly enjoy the nightlife in and out of campus, and love the surrounding area”. A member of the Poker Society, William also enjoys football, cricket, tennis and badminton.
William’s funding is part of Southwark Council’s £3 million Youth Fund scheme to support young people.
The South London authority plans to increase its scholarship fund from £50,000 in this year to £150,000 by 2013/2014.
Money from the Youth Fund will also help support thousands of Southwark students who claimed Educational Maintenance Allowance before it was phased out nationally.
The recession has fuelled unemployment in Southwark, with numbers of people aged 18-24 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance increasing by over 50 percent between June 2008 and June 2011.
Southwark was also badly affected by the summer rioting but, despite this, William describes the place he grew up in as “a great area and on an upward slope”.
Leader of Southwark Council, Councillor Peter John said: “following the recent disorder in Southwark, it’s more important than ever to support the borough’s young people so they can reach their full potential and secure a better future for themselves”.
Catherine McDonald from Southwark Council added: “we believe people should be able to stay on in education and get a foot on the jobs ladder, regardless of their financial situation”.
William criticised increasing university fees, saying: “I believe raising tuition fees is hugely detrimental to young people and especially those from poorer backgrounds”.
William also expressed dismay with the scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), a scheme he had benefitted from.
“Living in times of austerity, cuts are inevitable but I feel targeting young people and education significantly is unacceptable”, he added.
Currently considering a career in finance, William hopes to gain a first class degree and continue his education with postgraduate studies.