Potential of Lifelong Loan Entitlement is 'transformational'

05 May 2022

The potential of plans to introduce a Lifelong Loan Entitlement as part of the Government's 'Lifetime Skills Guarantee' is 'transformational' the Russell Group has said today (5 May). 

In its response to the Government's consultation on the proposals, the Russell Group has sad it is excited about the impact it could have on students, providers and employers.

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 want to do more.

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

In order to deliver on the ambition of the LLE proposals, guarantee high-quality provision and optimise investment, the Russell Group has made a series of recommendations in its response to the consultation. It recommends:

  • DfE conducts further research into the type of demand for modularised courses to best meet the needs of students and employers and, supported by the £10m allocated for the LLE in the Strategic Priorities Grant, increase the scale of pilots pre-2025 to support a timely roll out of new courses.
  • Ensuring modular provision seeks to complement but not replace more traditional learning pathways, recognising that some modules and courses will be better aligned with flexible cross-institution delivery than others.
  • Identifying the right level of funding to support the successful uptake and delivery of LLE across the sector. This will include funding for the increased levels of wrap around support necessary to assist LLE learners, funding to support the additional costs associated with delivering modular provision and ensuring that perverse incentives are not introduced into the system that disincentivise high-cost, high value courses such as STEM subjects.
  • Including Level 7 modules or courses as part of the LLE to retrain people and help the UK meet the growing need for master’s-level skills. Study at this level delivers excellent returns for graduates and the Exchequer and would be easier to roll out on a modular basis as flexible, employer-led provision is already being delivered at Level 7. More generally, it is important the LLE helps to expand access to upskilling opportunities, a key area of demand from employers and learners for expanded modular provision. 
  • The Government works closely with the sector as well as the Designated Quality Body (QAA) to align credit frameworks, credit transfer and accumulation mechanisms and student engagement processes. These should build on already-established principles noting that there is currently no common language between institutions around modular provision. Development of common processes should not mean that all universities or all courses need to adopt modular approaches, as this is a matter for individual institutions to determine. We welcome further discussions with DfE on these areas as the LLE develops.
  • Developing regulation for LLE that is risk-based and proportionate by using and streamlining existing regulatory frameworks, or by exploring non-regulatory approaches where possible. This approach can avoid duplicating efforts and additional burden and bureaucracy. The Government should engage as early as possible with the academic community and sector representatives when developing guidance on quality and compliance and should consider how the LLE will interact with existing regulatory frameworks, in particular the TEF.
  • Opening the eligibility of the LLE out to a wide range of learners, supporting those from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the system through maintenance loans or grants and ensuring that the LLE does not prevent the movement of students from England to universities in the Devolved Administrations which will have different funding arrangements.

Read the full consultation response below.

LLE Consultation Russell Group response May 2022

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