From education to employment

Sector responds to advance learning loans announcement

Government ministers have outlined support measures for the introduction of advanced learning loans for adults who are aged 24 and over and who are in FE. The announcement was made recently by Skills Minister John Hayes.

Concerns about the introduction of Advanced Learning Loans were widely raised. The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has continued to request that more research be conducted in order to ensure that adults won’t be put off of FE because of the loans.

The announcement detailed how students who complete their Higher Education course following FE would have their Access Course loan written off by the Student Loan Company.

The chief executive of NIACE, David Hughes, welcomed the changes made by government but said be feels strongly about making sure everybody gets the chance to further their education.

Hughes said: “We need to do everything we can to make sure that learners do not miss out on the opportunity to participate in learning and benefit from it.”

Ministers have also looked at ways of providing support for the most vulnerable students at the hands of lobbying by trade bodies ATL, the NUS, UCU and Unison. A £50 million bursary fund will be set up over a two year period, with the focus on vulnerable learners, such as those with learning difficulties, adults who have children in care and those with disabilities. This will be distributed by colleges and training organisations to the most vulnerable.

ATL’s national official for post 16 education, Norman Crowther, welcomed the plans for a bursary to be set up, saying it “should go some way to mitigate the full impact for these groups”.

But Crowther added that the ATL has reservations that adult loans would be a negative impact on FE for adult learning.

“We fear the introduction of loans will signal the end of education for adults in England’s Further Education colleges and mean thousands of adults will miss out on retraining and skilled jobs,” he said.

Kyle Northern

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