The Government announced a series of measures on 24 November 2021 which were described by the Minister for Higher and Further Education as “historic reforms” intended to enable post-recovery Britain to become a “skills powerhouse”.
From 2025, individuals will be able to access their “Lifelong Learning Entitlement” from Lifelong Learning accounts. The LLE will be 4 years’ worth of student loans for higher levels of study. The LLE will be able to be used flexibly including for full-time or part-time study and for modules or full courses. The policy behind these changes is to enable individuals to be able to upskill or reskill and to be a part of a highly skilled workforce.
In a speech the Minister put forward the case for how the LLE will be a “bridge to disconnected communities” across the country and will drive social mobility.
In addition, the Government has written to the Office for Students with new guidance to refocus the requirements on registered English higher education providers for their Access and Participation Plans, coinciding with the appointment of the new Director for Fair Access and Participation from January 2022.
Access and Participation Plans are to be focused going forward on “getting on” and not just on “getting in”, requiring ambitious targets for reducing drop-out rates and improving progression to graduate employment. The Office for Students is to hold institutions to account for meeting their targets.
The OfS is also to encourage registered English higher education providers to set targets to increase significantly the percentage of students on higher and degree apprenticeships.
Furthermore, Access & Participation Plans are to include details of how registered English higher education providers are helping to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children by supporting improvements in schools and colleges in their local communities.
The Government re-iterated the importance of high quality higher education courses and that it has been working with the Office for Students to drive forward quality.
£8m investment was also announced for 13 new projects aimed at reducing barriers to progression for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students at post-graduate level. The projects are spread geographically across the country and aimed at creating structural change for example in admissions and recruitment.
For further information, see the Government’s announcement: