The changes to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course funding early in the year by the government caused confusion for many students about the cost of ESOL courses.
The cut in funding meant that for many people the vital courses would longer be paid for by the Government, and instead the cost would shift to the individual or the individual’s employers.
Free tuition is still available to priority groups – primarily people who are unemployed or receiving income based benefits – for whom access to ESOL provision is important both for community cohesion and integration and economic purposes.
Asylum seekers who have not received a decision on their application after six months and those who are unable to leave the country for reasons beyond their control are also eligible for free tuition.
Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES) has been allocated an additional £50,000 to help those students who do not fit into the new criteria for free tuition but are still unable to afford the fee.
The Learner Support Fund is for ESOL learners who are not on benefits but might have a low income and can’t afford the fee. It can only be used to cover the cost of tuition (not materials and admin fee) and is factored in at the point of enrolment.
Donald Lush, Director of Student Support at WAES hopes that the Learner Support Fund will help those get onto a course they might otherwise have not been able to.