Challenges must be addressed before extending FE loans

22nd August 2014

In its response to the government’s consultation on the future development of loans, NIACE argues that there are still major challenges which need to be addressed effectively, before extending FE loans to cover younger adults and Level 2 provision.


Dr Fiona Aldridge, NIACE Assistant Director for Development and Research, said:


“NIACE has worked closely with the government, providers and learners to support the development and implementation of the 24+ Advanced Loans policy from its inception in 2012. We have been mindful of the potential for loans to provide access to learning for adults who may have previously missed out due to the high level of up-front fees, as well as actively highlighting the challenges and risks particularly for vulnerable learners including disabled learners, Apprentices and the over 40s.”


“Since the launch of 24+ Advanced Learning Loans, the government is to be commended for its responsiveness in adapting the policy to maximise the outcomes for learners. However, NIACE argues that there are still major challenges which need to be addressed effectively, before extending the FE loans to cover younger adults and Level 2 provision.”


NIACE’s consultation response urges the government to:


  • Undertake a thorough evaluation of the impact of the existing 24+ Advanced Learning Loans policy on learner demand, before finalising decisions to expand the remit of FE loans to include new participant age groups and levels of qualifications.
  • Explore the impact that current loans are having upon providers’ behaviour and the range and scope of learning that they offer. NIACE is concerned that FE loans may be significantly reducing the range of courses being provided, thus restricting learner choice.