Information and guidance ‘crucial to lifelong learning reforms’

Universities UK backs plans but stresses that they must be easy to understand and avoid bureaucracy for all involved

五月 2, 2022
An adult education teacher pointing to an electrical circuit on the board. Focus on the diagram of the circuit.
Source: iStock

Plans to offer lifelong loans in England must be accompanied by in-depth support and information that ensures the entitlement is “empowering and not restrictive”, Universities UK says.

Responding to a consultation on the planned scheme, which would allow adult learners to access funding for four years of post-18 education, the body that represents 140 institutions across the UK says that although it welcomed the reforms, advice and guidance must be “at its heart”.

Learners should be given progression pathways and the opportunities available must be effectively communicated by careers advisers, providers and the lifelong loan entitlement (LLE) portal, it says.

“This will require an information campaign backed by ongoing support for providers, on knowing what you can study, where and how – treating the entitlement as empowering not a restricted allowance,” UUK’s submission adds.

It is hoped that LLE – scheduled for introduction in 2025 – will open up opportunities for working adults who have never considered higher education and give them the chance to engage in flexible studies, for example taking single modules or building up a full degree over time.

The universities minister Michelle Donelan has likened its potential impact to that of the NHS on health in post-war Britain.

UUK says that in order to protect student choice, the government should remove equivalent or lower qualification (ELQ) rules which prevent students from accessing loan funding for a second degree in a non-science subject, if they already have a degree. This was a key point of debate as the plans made their way through Parliament. 

It says: “Without this change, the people that businesses need won’t be able to access the relevant training.”

In order to succeed, UUK says the LLE portal must offer clear information including a learner’s remaining entitlement, where they can spend it and a record of historic and ongoing qualifications.

The body also recommends that the Department for Education explore the concept of a home institution, based on geographical location or where a learner already has a history of study – which could take on responsibility for the students’ record and be a point of contact and advice.

Its submission adds that financial support must be tailored and responsive to different circumstances, while providers should also be offered sustainable funding with fees proportionate to a full qualification.

Steve West, the president of UUK and vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England, said the organisation has “long campaigned for adults of all ages to be able to access high-quality, flexible learning opportunities that fit around existing work or caring commitments”.

He stressed that universities are “willing to pilot, innovate and collaborate with employers, colleges, and government so flexible learning delivers the biggest benefits to society and individuals”.

But he cautioned that for the new system of learning to succeed, “it must be easy for learners to understand and use and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy for all involved”.



  • 注册是免费的,而且十分便捷
  • 注册成功后,您每月可免费阅读3篇文章
  • 订阅我们的邮件
Please 登录 or 注册 to read this article.

Reader's comments (1)

Life Long Learning Loans will be bigger than Apprenticeship Degrees and have the potential to deliver benefits as great as those we have had from the creation of the NHS. The big question is "How much will it cost? - what proportion of GDP /Government Expenditure will it represent?". This should be a cross party debate now, with a clear answer, so that there will be a consensus to support the increases in taxation required. The current student loan system is not fit for purpose and is, in practice, a hidden tax, that has widely different impacts on different groups of people within the general population. We need more information now, on how the loan system will operate. From what we have been told so far, the loans could be available to over half the population - over 30 million people. Expectations need to be managed and the Government needs to provide more and better information now.