Vet Gives Students Grants for University; EDUCATION: Pet Food Manufacturer Plans to Provide Awards of Pounds 1,000 a Year and Hopes to Help Shame Government

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Byline: STEVE DUBE

A VETERINARY surgeon and pet food manufacturer is helping young people to go to college by providing cash grants.

John Burns, of Kidwelly, is providing awards of pounds 1,000 a year to full-time students from families with an income of less than pounds 20,000 a year.

Eight young people from Kidwelly and the outlying areas of Mynydd y Garreg, Ferryside and Llandyfaelog in south-eastern Carmarthenshire are benefiting from his independent studentships.

"Students have had a raw deal from successive governments and I hope I can help a little, " Mr Burns said.

"The last Government did away with student grants and, instead of reversing that, this Government turned the screw by charging fees as well.

"One hears more and more about students leaving university with massive debts and I'm sure it discourages people from going to college."

Mr Burns recalled that when he studied at university in the 1960s anyone who had the ability and wanted to go to university was able to get a local authority grant.

"It made it possible for people to go to university whatever their family circumstances and I feel that's no longer the case.

"Our society in general depends on people being well educated partly for economic reasons but also for general welfare."

Mr Burns, who runs a business making healthy pet foods, said he plans to provide up to 10 studentships of pounds 1,000 a year and to fund the students through their fulltime further or higher education.

He advertised his studentship awards through a local newspaper and intends to do the same next years.

"I feel quite strongly about the whole thing and I was struck by the replies, " he said. "Some people are living on very low household incomes and it was quite touching to read of some of their family circumstances."

Mr Burns did not want to identify the students, but said several are now at the Carmarthenshire College in Llanelli and others are at university in Aberystwyth and Swansea. …