The Impact of 'Advanced Learner Loans'

This research is the first of its kind in the UK. It investigates the impact of the government’s new system of further education loans on investment in skills in Greater Manchester.

From the 2013/14 academic year, learners who are aged over 24 and wish to pursue courses at level 3 or above – roughly equivalent to ‘A’ levels – need to finance the cost of learning themselves. For most people, this will necessitate taking out a student-style learner loan.

The report finds that the numbers of adults undertaking skills training across Greater Manchester will fall by between 15 and 18 per cent in the wake of the introduction of loans.

Although significant, this projection can be regarded as less damaging than the own government’s projection of a 20 per cent fall in learner numbers. The report is based on surveys of learners – both those who have already taken out a loan and those who may be affected in the future.

The report finds that a key reason why people are willing to take out a loan is that learners on ‘Access to Higher Education’ courses – ‘A’ level equivalent courses that prepare students for a first degree – get the cost of further education loans written off if they progress to higher education. Almost half of learners who have taken out a loan are doing access courses.

The report also supports the government’s decision, announced in December 2013, to exempt apprenticeships from the system of further education loans. The research finds that hardly any adults in Greater Manchester had taken out a loan to pursue an apprenticeship because of the significant cost involved.

To read a short summary of the findings click here. (17kb)

To read the executive summary click here. (779kb)

To read the full evidence report click here. (3083kb)

To read the survey of 2013/14 learners at level 3 and above click here. (1670kb)

To read the survey of 2013/14 learners at level 2 click here. (1317kb)

To read the survey of 2012/13 learners at level 3 click here. (1356kb)