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AoC responds to Lifelong Learning Bill

1st February 2023

Responding to the publication of the Lifelong Learning Bill, Dr Arti Saraswat, AoC HE Senior Policy Manager, said: “This is an important first step in making student finance more flexible which is something AoC has campaigned for.

“Implementing this by 2025 will be challenging and will depend on publishing a detailed rule book, putting the correct systems in place and, most importantly, ensuring programmes are ready so that students can enrol on courses on a more modular basis. Ensuring the scheme has been tested through a thorough pilot process will be vital to building trust in the new system.

“There is still work needed to explain who will be eligible for the Lifelong Learning Entitlement, where they will be able to use it and how those institutions will be regulated. Colleges already have a track record of teaching HE on a more part-time, flexible and individualized basis to adult learners but this activity has diminished in recent years creating a genuine challenge in rebuilding capacity, at a time when the UK needs higher skills to boost productivity and grow the economy.

“There are wider challenges involved in reinvigorating adult higher education. The LLE and credit-based student loans are important technical fixes but are not enough on their own. Access to maintenance support is essential to ensure students can afford to study on a flexible basis.”

Notes to editors:

The Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) is proposed to make it possible for individuals to take out loans on a more flexible basis which the Government hopes will help them retrain and upskill as circumstances require. The 2019 Post-18 Review said the current system encourages too many people to concentrate their higher education at a young age and on a full-time basis, and that student loans should be available for shorter courses, in a way that encourages more flexible study. DfE’s Lifelong Learning Bill looks set to take forward this plan by making it possible for DfE to set fee limits for modules as well as for full courses.