13. Student loans should be converted into personal learning accounts

Recommendation 13

The current student loan system should be converted into a personal learning account system which includes a lifetime loan allowance for all courses at Level 4 and above.

Education and training needs to become a more important part of adults’ lives. Increases in life expectancy mean longer working lives. At the same time, however, job markets are becoming far more volatile and unpredictable as a result of technological change. There is an important question here of how the Government should support adults in this environment and help provide security in a changing world.

A longer term goal should be to align education and training for adults in England whether at university or college and regardless of level. A lifetime loan allowance would give students a single budget and allow them to make their own choice about what level of qualifications to take[1]. This might help the Student Loans Company merge and rationalise its loan products. A longer-term aim should be to transform student loans into learning accounts. At a practical level, this would require the ability to make payments into the scheme which are separate from loan repayments. At a presentational level, it might help move the language off loans towards investment.

 

[1] A lifetime loan allowance would remove the need for the Equivalent and Lower Level Qualification rules.