Further education changes: Minister Urged to Reconsider Plans

Ministers are being asked to reconsider plans for older students to fund their own A-level and equivalent courses. The government currently pays half the fees of further education students aged over 24, but from next year it wants them to take loans to pay the full cost.

Campaigners say the government's own impact assessment shows the policy will lead to 100,000 fewer places. The government says the loans will help more older people to study.

In a joint letter, leaders of education and student unions have urged the further education minister, John Hayes, to reconsider the policy.

The letter draws on a paragraph in the government's own impact assessment, published this month, which said "around 55% of the learners who would have been supported... would go ahead with learning under such a system of loans."

In the letter the unions calculate that this meant "45% fewer 24+ learners in the system when this policy is implemented. This will amount to a loss of more than 100,000 student places."

A government spokeswoman said that this calculation did not account for the impact of the money from the repayment of student loans which would in fact allow "an extra 204,000 new learners each year" to be supported.

However, the leaders of the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and the National Union of Students (NUS) claimed the plan would hit women, older students and those on low incomes disproportionately hard.

They wrote: "Quite simply, this will result in course closures, job losses and vastly diminished opportunities for adults who need a second chance in education."

Original source here.


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