Perspectives on further education loans

27 January 2012

NIACE has today published a special issue of Adults Learning to inform the ongoing debate about the introduction of further education loans for adults over 24 years in England from 2013.

The special Adults Learning supplement is the first in a series of single-issue treatment. It features short, sharp contributions from across the adult and further education sector – all written between December 2011 and January 2012, as the government began to work with stakeholders to develop options for the implementation of the policy.

The government is now in the implementation phase, but there is still much to play for, as many of the contributors to this issue point out, and some serious questions about the feasibility, fairness and likely impact of the proposals, particularly on participation by the least advantaged. The questions raised by our contributors include:

  • How will FE and HE debt be managed? 
  • What will be the impact on courses which cost more to deliver, such as STEM courses?
  • What will be the overall impact on adult participation?
  • Will recruitment to adult apprenticeships be affected?
  • How will the reforms be communicated to adults?
  • How will FE and HE loans work together?
  • What impact could the reforms have on Access to HE courses?

Paul Stanistreet, editor of Adults Learning, said:

“These questions and others are posed in the hope that we might be able to translate into practice the principles of fairness, freedom and responsibility, which underpin New Challenges, New Chances. Given greater freedoms, providers have the opportunity to be creative in meeting the demands of learners. But this will matter very little if current educational inequalities are reinforced by this policy rather than ameliorated. Fairness will be the true acid test of whether this is good policymaking.”