NUS today said that Government are to be commended for finally listening to the concerns set out by students, lecturers and staff and making some concessions to their further education loans policy.
However, NUS reaffirmed the fundamental flaws with a policy that greatly risks putting adults off studying, training or re-skilling later on in life.
The news follows long-standing campaigning from across the further education sector – including a recent national lobby of MPs jointly organised by NUS, UCU, UNISON and the ATL.
At present many students in further education pay 50 per cent of their tuition costs, with the Government paying the rest. Under the Government’s proposals, from 2013/14 anyone aged 24 and above who wants to study at level 3 (or above) will not be entitled to this financial support, and will instead be eligible for a tuition fee loan for 100 per cent of the tuition costs. This means, as with higher education tuition fees, that the loan acts as a replacement for public funding.
The further education minister, John Hayes, said today that loans will be written off for students who complete access courses and go on to study in higher education and that a £50 million bursary fund will be distributed over two years to support particularly vulnerable learners.
Toni Pearce NUS Vice President (Further Education) said:
“We should be incredibly proud that the work undertaken by students, lecturers and staff who have been thoughtfully and consistently challenging this completely ill-judged policy has led the Government to address some of these concerns. And Government should also be commended for finally listening to the strength of feeling out there, even if what they have done is not nearly enough.
“However, I’m afraid that the central issue still remains that we should be making further education as accessible as possible, rather than removing the public contribution towards teaching costs for so many adults who wish to re-skill."