Gordon Marsden MP, Labour’s Shadow Further Education, Skills & Regional Growth Minister, commenting on the Government’s announcement on further education loans today, said:
"Alongside the further education sector, Labour has been raising concerns about the Government’s plan for FE loans for months. That campaign has now produced significant concessions from Ministers over their plans to scrap direct support and enforce a loans system on some 375,000 adult learners. The concessions announced by Vince Cable today – over Access Courses to Higher Education, increasing support for STEM subjects and creating bursaries for the hardest hit and a focus on older learners – reflect the concerns which we have raised with Ministers.
"While I welcome these concessions, real fears remain over the impact that FE loans could have on the sector. Ministers’ own research found that just 1 in 10 learners would still definitely continue their courses if loans were introduced and BIS’s impact assessment predicting up to 150,000 could drop out of adult learning altogether – and the way these changes are being brought in without any real parliamentary scrutiny.
"Labour will continue to fight fiercely for the principle that Adult and Further Education remains accessible to all as a vital lever for social mobility and widening participation. We must give those who miss out first time a proper second chance to gain skills and qualifications."