Older workers nervous about lifelong learning financing

New polling reveals varying attitudes among adults towards taking out loans for courses

New polling reveals varying attitudes among adults towards taking out loans for courses

New polling suggests the government could struggle to convince older workers and people outside of London to take out a student loan for lifelong learning tuition costs.

Over 2,000 adults were surveyed by Public First last month for their views on lifelong learning and their expectations of who should pay for it, in a poll about the upcoming lifelong learning entitlement (LLE).

This comes as the government stands by its commitment to deliver the LLE from 2025, despite the DfE’s most senior civil servant warning of “significant challenges” meeting the timescale.

However, meeting the launch date may be the least of the government’s concerns.

Public First’s latest round of polling showed interest in lifelong learning declined significantly the older people get: 78 per cent of people in the 25 to 34 age bracket expressed an interest in lifelong learning.

But, by ages 45 to 54, that declined to 60 per cent. And by 55 to 64 just 35 per cent expressed an interest.

The LLE will provide learners up to the age of 60 with a loan entitlement to the equivalent of four years – around £37,000 – of higher education study.

They will be able to use the funding over their lifetime through a credits system to study qualifications at levels 4 to 6, for both modular and full-time study at colleges, universities, and other providers registered with the Office for Students.

Public First also found wide variation in people’s attitudes towards taking a government loan to cover lifelong learning tuition fees.

Two in five Londoners said they’d be willing to use a government loan for fund course costs, compared to just 13 per cent in Yorkshire and Humber.

And while people with lower level qualifications, such as GCSEs, were more interested in lifelong learning, they were less keen on the idea of taking out a government loan to pay for it than others with graduate and post-graduate level qualifications.

The policy was originally launched as the lifelong loan entitlement. Previous Public First polling revealed potential learners found the term “lifelong loan” to be “negative and unappealing.” The government dropped the term “loan” from the LLE this September and replaced it with “learning”.

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  1. JustSaying

    Another classic from this regime !
    Lets set a policy to increase participation and then in practice rely on the good old Civil Service to achieve completely the reverse of it!
    The proposed changes to the Lifelong Learning Entitlement and Advance Learner Loans will result in some 150 OFSTED inspected independent training providers no longer being able to support the thousands of learners they support each year. Do we deduce from this that the government doesn’t think OFSTED are capable of judging quality at this level? Clearly they will not say that. No need to bother when they can rely on the Civil Servants to add a fatuous requirement that the OFS should do this role exclusively, knowing that none of the 150 existing providers are currently subject to their regime!

  2. At their core, loans create structural inequality by ensuring that those reliant on them are at a distinct and measurable numerical disadvantage to those that don’t.

    However they get dressed up, they can’t and won’t help close wealth inequality gaps, nor improve overall social mobility metrics. They are nothing more than a tax on aspiration.

    This survey is a classic example of questions engineered to demonstrate there is demand. The survey offered options of the circumstances various demographics would take a loan – asking whether they would undertake lifelong learning with a loan, self funded, employer funded or not interested.

    The survey didn’t offer the option of state funded lifelong learning (thereby skewing all other responses), nor did it specify that loans are only available at levels 4-6.

    The student loan book is just another example of the outflow of money from the country. The good bits of the loans book are sold off to institutional investors (majority overseas) with a guaranteed return. The bad bits of the loans book are underwritten by the public purse. This ensures there is a significant net outflow of £s. However, they are loved by whichever political party is in power because the sale of bundled up loans can be controlled and timed and fiscal narratives can be built around that certainty.

    While they might facilitate learning and learning is inherently a good thing, the way they are structured ensures that learning has costs beyond the price tag.

    Calling it a loan ‘entitlement’ is a sales gimmick.