Lifelong loan entitlement changes name and gains royal assent

DfE also launches £5m competition to grant fund tuition fees for HTQ modular students in 2023/24 and 2024/25

DfE also launches £5m competition to grant fund tuition fees for HTQ modular students in 2023/24 and 2024/25

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The government has renamed the lifelong loan entitlement after legislation that paves the way for the flagship scheme gained royal assent.

Now officially rebranded as the lifelong learning entitlement, the LLE was put on the statute book last night after clearing both houses of parliament.

Set to be rolled out from 2025, the entitlement will provide individuals with the equivalent of four years of tuition loans – worth up to £37,000 in today’s fees – to use flexibly over their lifetime.

Funding through an online account will be available to study at levels 4 to 6, for both modular and full-time study at colleges, universities, and other providers registered with the Office for Students.

Philip Augar, chair of the Post-18 Education and Funding Review which recommended the creation of the LLE in 2019, said: “This legislation gives us a framework that fits our modern, fast-changing jobs market. The potential now exists for adults to transform life opportunities through lifelong learning and I hope universities, colleges and employers respond constructively in ensuring that this potential is fulfilled.”

The Lifelong Learning Act will allow HE providers to use a new method of calculating the maximum level of tuition fees they can charge for different courses. This will make the pricing of modules and short courses “proportionate, so people can access education and training at a fair price”, the government said.

‘Legislation gives us a framework that fits our fast-changing jobs market’

The LLE will be available to new and returning learners. For people who have already taken out a loan for a degree, the amount they can borrow will be reduced depending on the funding they have previously received to support study.

Adult learners studying part-time courses will also have access to maintenance loans for living costs for the first time under the scheme. 

Ministers also announced earlier this year that the controversial equivalent and lower-level funding rule (ELQ), which prohibits funding for higher-level courses at or below a level a learner is already qualified, will be scrapped under the LLE.

LLE tuition loans will however only be available for people up to the age of 60.

Government officials were urged to change the language and branding of the LLE last year after researchers found the term “lifelong loan” to be unappealing to potential learners, namely because adults do not want to take on more debt.

A Department for Education spokesperson said the government has now agreed to change the name to the lifelong learning entitlement so it “better reflects its core purpose of offering learning opportunities throughout people’s working lives, making education and training more accessible to people from all backgrounds”. 

The DfE also recently announced the launch of a £5 million competition to encourage universities and colleges to develop and offer individual modules of higher technical qualifications (HTQs).

The scheme will “exceptionally allow” around 20 providers to grant fund tuition fees for students to study HTQ modules in academic years 2023/24 and 2024/25.

This will include up to £20,000 provided to each successful bid for “demand-raising activity, including information and guidance to learners”.

The competition closes on November 3.

Skills, apprenticeships and higher education minister Robert Halfon said: “Giving people the chance to access education and training over the course of their working lives, in a way that suits them, is crucial to enabling those from all backgrounds to climb the ladder of opportunity.    

“From HTQ modules in cyber security to short courses in accountancy and university degrees in engineering, this new lifelong learning entitlement will plug skills gaps and give employers access to a pipeline of talent to help them grow.”

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