Knowledge Article

Lifelong learning funds to be made available

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Anyone looking to train, retrain or upskill throughout their working lives will soon have access to a flexible lifelong learning loan.

Under the Government’s complete overhaul of the existing student loan arrangement, funds equivalent to four years of post-18 education will be available in 2025.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “I know first-hand the benefits of lifelong learning, having retrained and upskilled numerous times in my journey from apprentice to Education Secretary.

“Lifelong learning is critical to career progression, helping to fill skills gaps and boost the economy, which is why this overhaul to our student finance system is so important.”

The Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) will empower more people to study in a way that works for them, opening up opportunities for those that might have never considered higher education. This could help them balance training or studies alongside other commitments such as childcare or financial commitments, which will revolutionise social mobility and plug skills gaps.

Under the plans, the Government has confirmed that from 2025, people will be able to access loans worth the equivalent of four years of post-18 education (£37,000 in today’s tuition fees) under the LLE and use them flexibly over their working lives to suit their circumstances.

Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor and President, Nottingham Trent University said: “The Lifelong Loan Entitlement will transform the way in which every adult in England can engage with higher education, including those who have never done so before. It will redefine what it means to say you have been to university.

“This will benefit individuals, employers, and society as people enhance their skills and productivity by studying courses in flexible ways that fit both their ambitions and their circumstances. Universities now need to rise to the opportunity by delivering programmes that enable leaners to make the most of this bold and innovative approach to funding fees and maintenance.”

The loan can be used to pay for full or part-time study, for a variety of courses – from degrees to higher technical qualifications. It has been compared to a flexi-travel card, allowing people to jump on and off their learning, as opposed to having a ticket with a single destination.

Students will be able to keep track of their studies and see how much funding they have left in a personal account, and access information about the courses and modules they can spend it on. This will be available online, and operate much like a bank account.

Maintenance loans will also be available for students studying many more technical and part-time courses, including modules of courses for the first time. This will set the system on a par with traditional full-time study and open up new study and training opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

People who have previously studied will also be able to access this student finance, based on student loans they’ve already taken out. And under the new system, returning students will be able to study at an equivalent or lower level than they previously studied – something that the current system does not allow.

The overhaul will not only empower people to learn throughout their lives and offer greater opportunities for learning, but enable workers to retrain and upskill to meet the needs of the cutting-edge industries and high-paid jobs of the future.

Clare Marchant, UCAS Chief Executive said: “Several hundred thousand adult learners sign up to UCAS every year. The lifelong learning entitlement offers an opportunity to dramatically expand lifelong learning and boost adult skills.

“We look forward to working with Government, as we are on apprenticeships, to ensure all courses under the LLE are available on and showcased alongside the high quality, personalised careers advice UCAS is well known for.”

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