Posted on Wednesday, 25 November 2015 at 4pm
by Tony Ellis. See more of my posts here.
There are some unexpected nuggets of good news for mature and part-time students in the Government’s Autumn Spending Review:
- from 2018-19 part-time students will be eligible for maintenance loans to support the cost of living while studying;
- the new scheme for postgraduate loans will be available to learners under 60 years of age (not 30 as in the initial proposals);
- eligibility for undergraduate tuition loans will be extended to those who already have equivalent level qualifications where their further study is in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) subject.
These proposals create a level playing field, for the first time, in the financial support for full and part-time undergraduates and provide a model for financing postgraduate study – both very welcome initiatives from our perspective in Lifelong Learning. It is also good to see the Government’s commitment to protecting the adult FE budget (a vital support for those with ambitions to progress to higher education).
The ongoing challenge is that all of this support for study in higher education is configured in terms of loans. We already know that there is a great deal of misinformation about eligibility for student loans. We also know that adults, especially from households where income is low and vulnerable, are reluctant to borrow so heavily. A national information campaign, on the back of the new measures in the Spending Review, would certainly go a long way to addressing the first of these concerns. The second is a greater challenge for our work with individual learners in helping them to make informed and realistic decisions.