Road accident helps to finance course

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The Independent Online
IT IS NOT quite true to say that Charles Varley had to be knocked off his motorcycle to go to college, but he is hoping to finance this year's studies from the damages he won after the accident, writes Donald MacLeod.

He has just started a course in photo-journalism at Stradbroke College, Sheffield. His local authority, the London borough of Wandsworth, is contributing nothing towards his fees of about pounds 1,000 or his living costs.

Mr Varley, 25, was refused a discretionary grant because he had not been resident in the borough for three years. His case is typical of the way scarce discretionary grant funds are being more and more tightly rationed by authorities.

He said it had taken him two years to obtain one of the 12 places on the Sheffield course, which has hundreds of applicants. 'I intend to do my best to last the course,' said Mr Varley, who added that only half his fellow students were receiving grants. 'A lot are worse off than I am. Without grants it is that much more difficult to get work done. We need to buy paper and films and if you are constantly strapped for cash it is very difficult to give the course that 110 per cent,' he said.

Ron Eyley, director of journalism studies at the college, said: 'Students have to top up their debt over and over again. It is obvious to me that over the last three or four years the situation has become acute. They are doing all sorts of things to survive.'

(Photograph omitted)