Loans and fees logic out of kilter

December 5, 1997

WHEN the new fees regime is implemented, it appears that "lifelong learning" will continue to have an age limit. Student loans are only available to people aged under 50 at present. This has a knock-on effect. Students cannot apply for access funds unless they have received their full loan. So students aged over 50 cannot apply for access funding. Moreover, for students aged over 50, like those aged under 50, there are few circumstances under which any benefits are payable.

This week I was advised by the Department for Education and Employment that it is not known yet whether the same arrangement will apply. However, it "looks as if it will". Before adults aged over 50 decide whether to bother completing their university admission forms, they need definite answers to such essential questions as "what will I live on?". Clear information on the loans situation is needed urgently. Will the arrangements continue to penalise adults who did not have the chance to enter higher education in their youth, who have worked for several decades and who, at the age of 50, finally have the opportunity to satisfy a lifelong ambition?

Helen Jones

School of education and professional development University of Huddersfield

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