Briefing: Lifelong Loan Entitlement

24 February 2022

Flexible learning can play a critical role in growing high-level skills, revitalising our local, regional, and national economies and in levelling-up opportunity across the UK. Russell Group universities already support flexible provision in a range of ways, and we want to do more.

From delivering higher and degree apprenticeships and offering technical and professional courses helping to address the Government’s skills gap, our universities will always seek to deliver learning in an accessible and convenient way. We also work with colleges and businesses to ensure courses are designed to prepare students for the world of work.

The UK Government’s plan to introduce a Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) – giving people the option of accessing student finance to access four years’ worth of post-18 education, over the course of their working lives – is a positive step forward.

Our universities are ready to work with Government on its plans to develop ways to encourage more people from all backgrounds to learn, upskill and retrain throughout their lives.

LLE has the potential to expand flexible learning opportunities. However, it must be developed, implemented, and financially supported in a way that ensures flexible learning programmes are increased at the same time as maintaining the UK’s internationally renowned undergraduate programmes.

During the LLE’s development, the Russell Group will work with government to ensure it is underpinned by the following 5 key principles:

  • Government investment supports the development of high-quality modular provision so new, flexible courses can complement our existing world-leading higher education
  • Ensuring Level 7 (Masters-level) is included so all students have the opportunity to attain the high-level skills our economy needs and ensure employers can fully benefit from this key route to upskilling.  
  • Developing flexible learning pathways so students can combine credits that result in awards recognised by universities and employers whilst protecting the autonomy afforded to higher education institutions.  
  • Incentivising modular STEM courses to support sustainable and high-quality LLE provision in areas which already operate at a significant deficit and will be crucial to filling skills gaps.  
  • Providing wrap around support for student success to ensure that LLE students benefit from an excellent student experience and are appropriately supported to succeed on their courses as they may have distinct needs from other learners. 

Our briefing below has more detail on each of the 5 principles as well as examples of flexible learning at Russell Group universities.

Creating new opportunities for flexible lifelong learning

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