Truro and Penwith College has welcomed the government’s decision to extend free school meals for disadvantaged learners into further education colleges.

The college, which draws students from all over the Falmouth Penryn and Helston areas, says it is particularly delighted at what it will mean for students in Cornwall who want to choose the college for their post-16 studies.

The government’s plans, announced last week by Nick Clegg, now ensure that college students will get the same financial support as those in school sixth forms.

The college says the issue has been raised at various opportunities by the college, including during Nick Clegg’s recent visit, and in meetings with Sarah Newton, MP.

It said both of them listened sympathetically and understood and accepted the lack of parity in how school and college students of the same age and doing the same courses were being treated.

The Association of Colleges campaign provided statistics from across England which show that there are three times as many students eligible for free meals in further education colleges than in sixth forms, but that these were being denied the same financial support that school pupils were given.

David Walrond, principal of Truro and Penwith College said: “This is extremely good news for students in Cornwall and for this college. It finally addresses what nearly everyone had come to consider a wholly unfair and indefensible situation.

“It means that all post-16 students will receive the same support, regardless of whether they choose a school or the college. It means that when year 11s and their families are considering which course and which academic institution to go to, they really can think about what is best for them in terms of their qualifications and their futures, rather than worrying about what they can afford.”

Truro and Penwith College will be providing its own contingency measures to support students from lower income families until the new government support is in place. The college issues free meal deal cards for eligible students to enable them to buy a hot meal from one of the various cafes and restaurants at both college campuses.