Wednesday, 15 April 2015

FE Loans: Going Away? On Hold? Or Just Biding Their Time?

by Mike Cooper

24+ Advanced Learning (‘FE’) Loans have been around for several years; they approach their third annual start. Last summer, BIS proposed (amongst other things) to expand their scope ‘downwards’, in age and levels.

After long silence, the government response has come. Several proposals were resolved (e.g. removing the cap on the numbers of concurrent Loans, and transferring Higher Nationals to BIS/SFA funding and thus bringing those into scope – the first got a ‘yes’, and the second got a ‘no’), but the ‘downwards expansion’ decision is delayed until the autumn’s planned Comprehensive Spending Review, to align with a major review of Adult Education.

Not long before the response was published, a Campaign for Learning seminar explored the proposals; some wider mysteries were considered, too. In fact, those matters may well be rather bigger, wider and more significant.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Rethinking mandatory employer cash contributions to 19-21 Apprenticeships


by Mark Corney

We are now less than a year before the next general election, and a consensus seems to have emerged between the main political parties over 'earn or learn' for 18-21 year olds.

The pool of 18-21 year olds who are unemployed and not in full time education can be reduced by increasing the number in jobs, expanding the number in full-time education and insisting that the rest participate in full-time training in return for a youth allowance.

Increasing the number of 18-21 year olds in employment includes expanding jobs with apprenticeships, the example par excellence of combining 'earning and learning'.

A conflict is arising, however, between 18-21 earn or learn policy and 19-21 apprenticeship funding policy.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Why not Sharia loans for all?

by Mick Fletcher

In April BIS issued a consultation on proposals to develop a sharia compliant finance product that might serve as an alternative to higher education loans1 – see .  The aim of the proposals is to overcome the potential difficulties in accessing higher education that might be experienced by those whose faith is offended by payment of interest or usury.  Although this may seem a somewhat specialised, even abstruse consultation the content is actually of much wider interest.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Solving the Post-16 GCSE Resit Conundrum


by Mark Corney

Around 37% of 16 year olds in England do not achieve at least a grade 'C' GCSE in mathematics and 34% do not so in English. Everyone agrees that 16 year olds without a Level 2 in English or mathematics should continue to study these subjects until they reach this minimum standard until they are 18. The disagreement is over the type of qualification young people must take to achieve a Level 2 in these key subjects, namely GCSEs or functional literacy and numeracy level 2 programmes.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Benefits claimants and 18-24 earn or learn policy

by Mark Corney

The latest statistics show there are 1.1m young people aged 18-24 who policy makers should be acutely concerned about.

Around half are unemployed and have looked for work in the past four weeks but are not in full time education.

The other half are inactive and have not looked work in the past four weeks and are outside of full-time education. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

The employment half of 18-24 ‘earn or learn’

 by Mark Corney

Three hours before the Chancellor delivered Budget 2014, official figures showed that 1,137,000 young people aged 18-24 were unemployed or inactive and not in full-time education. This is group of 18-24 year olds policy makers should be most acutely worried about.

Some 578,000 young people aged 18-24 are unemployed - having looked for work in the past four weeks – but are not in full time education, down 26,000 on the previous quarterly average.

Meanwhile, 559,000 young people aged 18-24 were inactive – having not looked for work in the past four weeks – but are not in full-time education, down 4,000 on the previous quarterly average.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The learning half of 18-24 ‘Earn or Learn’

by Mark Corney

Around 500,000 young people aged 18-24 in England are unemployed - having looked for work in the past four weeks - but not in full-time education. A further 500,000 are economically inactive - they have not looked for work in the past four weeks - and are not in full time education.

There are two main ways to reduce the million 18-24 year olds who are unemployed or inactive but not in full time education. The first is to increase the number of young adults in employment with or without apprenticeships and in part-time education. The second is to increase the number in full-time education.