NIACE concerns over latest figures on adult learning loans

11 July 2013

Responding to the latest application information for Further Education & Skills 24+ Advanced Learning Loans – including figures which show that there have been no applications for loans for higher-level or advanced Apprenticeships – David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“While it is good to see the number of loan applications continuing to increase month on month, the data published today raises a number of concerns. Do these figures show that loans are having a negative impact on adult enrolments, or is it too early to make that judgement? Currently there have been 8679 applications for loans, however, this only represents around 2% of the total number of people learning at this level in 2010/11. Is it likely, therefore, that the whole £129 million of funding will be utilised and what will be the knock-on consequences if there is a shortfall?

“From the start we have been particularly concerned about whether loans will work for the Apprenticeship programme. The fact there has not been a single loan application from apprentices is extremely worrying, especially if this leads to older adults not being able to access higher-level or advanced Apprenticeships. The Government’s own figures assume that loans for Apprenticeships by 2014/15 will be a third of the overall take-up. This data suggests that the Government needs to take specific action to ensure the implementation of loans is a success.

“While there were always likely to be teething issues following the introduction of loans, anything that risks stopping adults from accessing higher level opportunities to progress further with their learning is something that cannot be ignored. Adult learning has a key role to play in ensuring a sustained economic recovery and in the wider benefits it will bring to individuals and communities. We will continue to support the sector and to monitor these figures closely to see how they develop as we get closer to September.”