From education to employment

24+ loan figures indicate substantial budget under-spend, warns NIACE

Recently published figures showing the take up of 24+ advanced learning loans in their first year show potentially substantial under-spend in the budget, according to adult education body NIACE.

Just over 65,000 applications have been received so far, against an initial government estimate of 85,000 being approved.

Around 48% of the applications are supporting Level 3 Diplomas, while 30% are backing Access to HE provision. Advanced and Higher Level Apprenticeships had also been covered in the scheme, but were removed earlier this year after making up less than 0.7% of the applications.

NIACE is calling for an ongoing impact assessment of the loans as it believes they have had a negative impact on participation in the learning and skills system.

“As well as identifying the differential impact of the introduction of loans on particular groups of learners, further analysis will also shed light on the geographical and subject pattern of what is being funded,” said Fiona Aldridge, NIACE’s assistant director of development and research.

“It is important that we understand who is learning, what they’re learning, where they’re learning – and who is missing out. In particular, we would like the Government to publish data by Local Enterprise Partnership (LEPs) boundaries so that LEPs can begin to stimulate demand and action in their areas with local employers and other partners.”

Roughly two-thirds of providers said the introduction of the loans would change the whole FE landscape, according to research published by the government shortly before Easter.

Natalie Thornhill

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