DfE confirms HE fee policy change WILL apply to FE loans

DfE confirms HE fee policy change WILL apply to FE loans

The government’s proposed rise in the repayment threshold for student loans will apply to FE loans, it has been confirmed.

At the Conservative Party conference this weekend, Theresa May will announce that the amount people will have to earn before starting to pay back their student loans will increase from £21,000 to £25,000.

The announcement was initially made in relation to loans for higher education courses, but Department for Education sources have today told FE Week that the new threshold will also apply to advanced learner loans.

The increase in the threshold for repayments is part of a wider effort by the Conservatives to appeal to more young voters following their worse-than-expected general election performance. The party has also announced a freeze on university tuition fees and an extension of the Help to Buy scheme.

The news has already been welcomed by Dr Susan Pember, a former senior civil servant who now leads adult learning provider membership body Holex.

Pember, who used to be in charge of FE and skills at the now-defunct Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said that the announcement was “good news” for the sector.

It follows a tumultuous period for advanced learner loans, which are available to learners aged 24 or over who are taking a level 3 or 4 qualification with an approved college or training provider.

Last month, FE Week revealed that the majority of FE loans funding has gone unspent over the last four years.

According to figures obtained under the freedom of information act, 58 per cent of FE loans funding, amounting to almost £1 billion, has not been spent since 2013.

The Student Loans Company, which processes advanced learner loans on behalf of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, revealed that just £652 million in loan-funded provision had actually been delivered since 2013, against a massive £1.56 billion in allocations.

There has also been a near-40-per-cent fall in the numbers of level three and four learners since the loans were introduced, sparking dire warnings across the sector.