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Government proposes 'lifelong loans' to help those wanting to study, train or retrain at any age

The Government has today announced plans to introduce a higher education loan scheme to help people study, train or retrain at any point during their lives via flexible courses. The loan, dubbed the 'lifelong loan entitlement', will be worth the equivalent of four years of post-18 education. Here's all you need to know. 

The proposed scheme, which is subject to consultation, comes as part of six key reforms to the higher education system (see below) and is in addition to the radical changes being unveiled to the student loan system.

The Government's proposed plan on lifelong learning will, it says, allow people to balance the ability to train and study with "other life commitments like mortgages and families". The lifelong loan entitlement is part of six key reforms being proposed by the Department of Education.

Here are the proposed reforms

The six key reforms to the higher education system are in addition to the announcement on a new student loan repayment plan for students starting an eligible course from September next year. The proposed reforms are:

  • Lifelong loan entitlement. Everyone will be eligible for funding equivalent to four years of post-18 education.
  • £750 million of increased investment in teaching and facilities, which is earmarked for investment in higher education teaching and facilities, including in science and engineering, subjects that support the NHS and degree apprenticeships.
  • Establishing a new national scholarship scheme. This is aimed at improving access for high achieving disadvantaged students to either higher or further education or an apprenticeship.
  • Cuts to the cost of Foundation Years. To widen access, the Government is considering lowering the tuition fee and loan limits for all Foundation Year courses to make them more affordable.
  • The introduction of certain minimum eligibility requirements for individuals wanting a loan. The Government said this is to ensure "student's aren't being pushed into higher education before they are ready". This will mean that people will need either two Es at A-level or at least a Level 4 pass in English and Maths GCSE. The Government has said they'll allow for certain exemptions such as mature students.
  • Controls on student numbers. This is being proposed as a way to improve long-term outcomes so that "poor-quality, low cost courses aren't incentivised to grown uncontrollably", according to the Government. 

What does the Government say?

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Our universities are a great British success story. They are powerhouses of innovation and are playing a key part in revolutionising the skills system, helping make lifelong learning possible with more flexibility and technical training.

“But we need to ensure that we are creating opportunities that will not only open doors but will develop the talent our country needs to prosper now and in the future. 

“Higher education is an investment and we need to ensure that graduates are being rewarded for the money, time and effort they put into their studies with an educational experience and jobs that match their skills and help contribute to the economy."


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