Caring college bosses have acted swiftly to fill the gap left by the government's controversial decision to scrap key student funding.

Hundreds of teenagers faced being forced to shelve their studies following changes to the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). But Wallsend's TyneMet College and North Shields-based Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College have new funding to support students.

Their groundbreaking Maintenance Allowance scheme means full-time students who meet the eligibility criteria could receive as much as £1,200 annually to support their learning.

Principal and Chief Executive, Jon Vincent, said: "We are confident the Maintenance Allowance will allow a number of students to remain in full-time education. Eligible students could receive significant financial help to meet the cost of books, equipment, learning materials and transport.

"Although all of our Further Education courses are free for young people aged 16-18, we recognise the concerns over the rising costs of a full-time education and both TyneMet and Queen Alexandra are committed to assisting current and future students."

The Queen Alex Maintenance Allowance (QAMA) and TyneMet Maintenance Allowance (TMA) will be available to new and existing students, including those who are currently studying elsewhere. Those eligible for funding include individuals who are already receiving a full or part EMA.

And Jon Vincent added: "Even if you have been studying at a different college, you could still be entitled to TMA or QAMA when you enrol on a full-time FE course at Queen Alexandra or TyneMet."

TMA is available to 16-18-year-old full-time students on Further Education vocational courses at TyneMet College. And QAMA is available to 16-18-year-old full-time students taking AS or A2 subjects at Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College in North Shields.

The decision to scrap EMAs raised fears that thousands of youngsters nationwide would be forced out of full-time education and left ill-prepared for a move into the workplace.

Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, has been an outspoken critic of the government's ploy and said: "Scrapping Education Maintenance Allowance and hiking university tuition fees will only further reduce the chances of young people."

Both TyneMet and sister College Queen Alexandra are conscious of the rising costs facing students considering a move into higher education.

And Jon Vincent added: "We are hoping the QAMA and TMA will encourage the majority of those young people to commit to learning with a view to applying for university or employment in the future."

To find out if you are eligible to receive support, contact the Gateway Team on 0191 229 5000 (email enquiries@tynemet.ac.uk) to speak to a dedicated student advisor.