Budget 2017: FE Maintenance Loans

8 March 2017

The Spring Budget announced new investment for maintenance loans for students on technical education courses at levels 4-6. The idea behind this is to support those students with living costs and provide some parity with the student finance support on offer for university students. The policy at the moment, however, is that students on higher level technical courses will only be eligible for maintenance loans if they study at a National College or Institute of Technology.

Today’s Budget commits £15 million for these new maintenance loans for 2019/20, rising to £40million in 2020/21 and £70million in 2021/22. We don’t know yet how much funding higher level technical students will be able to access. On the assumption that rates will be the same as what university students can currently access, this equates to roughly 1500 students in 2019/20, 4100 in 2020/21 and 7200 in 21/22. To provide some form of comparison, only 6,300 students accessed an Advanced Learning Loan to cover tuition fee costs for courses above level 4 in 15/16.

Under the Government’s technical education reforms, it looks like their ambition is to concentrate higher level technical training at National Colleges and Institutes of Technology. But this seems somewhat at odds, particularly when you consider relatively low student volumes, with growing demand for higher level technical skills. Learning and Work Institute welcomes the introduction of maintenance loans as a positive step forward in helping students meet the costs of studying, particularly if they have to move in order to access training at a specialist provider. However, for real parity with higher education, access to loans should not be dependent on the type of institution you choose to study at.

Full 2017 budget response here