THE founder of a charity which helps students with learning disabilities receive further education off-island believes the government is ‘short-sighted’ in not paying their tuition fees.
Georgie Revill, of Bride, who set up the charity SKILS (Skills for Independent Living Scheme) in 2011 to help students aged 18 to 25, has stressed the importance for those with learning disabilities to receive education to at least the age of 25 given their slower learning rate.
She believes the proof can be seen by her autistic son Ollie, aged 20, and others attending Myerscough College, in Preston. Ollie, who is in his third year, is starting a mainstream two-year diploma in horticulture, while Glenn Leece has started a diploma in agriculture.
She said it was a ‘dream come true’ adding: ‘It’s been quite a journey, a very positive journey but not without its stresses as those with special needs offspring will understand.’
She said: ‘Unfortunately with the lack of laws on the island, especially the Disability Discrimination Act which has been passed but not yet adopted, these students do not enjoy the same rights as their more able peers.
‘They do not have their tuition fees paid for by the Department of Education. I feel this is so short-sighted and so very unfair. We are talking about £5,040 per year.’
She said: ‘These guys are attending a mainstream college, are the only full-time, residential students with additional needs, are having to work 10 times harder than the average student just to fit in and they are being pushed academically to their limits.
‘They want to succeed, they want to fit in with society and they want to return to the island, obtain employment, live independently and pay their fair share of taxes. They, like all those out there with special needs, want and should be able to live a fulfilled life.
‘Many students from the island whose tuition fees are being paid for by the tax payer will never return to the island to seek employment.’
On Saturday, more than £1,000 was raised for SKILS at a fundraiser at the Strand Shopping Centre, which saw volunteers run and walk the 80-mile distance between Douglas and Myerscough on treadmills.
‘There were some heart-rending moments when we were approached by families of prospective clients who just did not know where to turn,’ revealed Georgie. ‘There seems to be a lack of strategy and choice for those on the island with additional needs once they turn 18.’
Last year, five Manx students attended Myerscough. SKILS wants to help at least four more potential students wishing to start in September 2013.
She thanked Nedgroup Investments, Fit 4 Hire, the Strand Shopping Centre, the volunteer runners, and 14 North.
To receive DEC funding for a higher national diploma, students must gain the equivalent of one A-C grade at A-level. For a university first degree, they must have at least two A-C grades.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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