It’s not looking good for adult education and lifelong learning.
“Just one in 10 people aged 24 and over would definitely undertake a further education course at college if controversial plans to charge student loans are brought in, according to the government’s own research released today.”
It’s just so utterly depressing. But then adult education isn’t exactly that much of a vote winner or a source of political donations…or am I being cynical? The full policy is set out on the BISgovUK site here.
Many of the arguments I could make I already have in The unintended consequences of adult education policy. Loans for this, loans for that…it’s not as if we’re not already drowning under the weight of debt and being priced out of everything as it is. (See Please stop pricing us out of existence for more on this).
If we’re expected to change careers and retrain every so often, it makes no sense to throw further barriers up to prevent people from doing so – especially given that skills are so often emphasised as being vital for the UK’s competitive edge. I don’t buy the argument that people will be happy to take out further loans – on top of the ones that they already have. Most will vote with their feet and not enroll, while others will take them out and struggle with the repayments. I dread to think what it will mean for some of the colleges, both in terms of job losses, closures and the turning of what were once thriving centres of education into ghost towns. Places like CityLit are going to be absolutely hammered by this.
While this is a Coalition policy, I can’t help but feel that it’s also something that would have been at home in a New Labour narrative. The arguments around pulling state funding and replacing it with loans on the grounds that with such courses people will be able to earn more and use those increased earnings to pay those loans back, sits comfortably with university fees. (My kicking of all parties on university fees – and how the policy was made, is here)
Given that it looks like the Coalition is going to go ahead with this policy, will any political party commit to scrapping this policy and reinstating funding for further education?