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Government report warns about axing funding for adults wanting to study at college

7 January 2013 | last updated: 10 December 2015

UCU said today that government plans to strip people aged 24 and above of state funding for further education courses would put older learners off studying.

The government says plans to introduce loans for people aged 24 and above who wish to study at a further education college will allow them to invest more resources for younger people. However, the union says a report from the department for business, innovation and skills (BIS) into the impact of the loans today warns that it is the older generation who would be least likely to study under the new regime.

Today's report says older learners (aged 40 and above), described in the report as the most 'financially savvy', were less likely to take on a loan to fund their studies. It is the older generation who also raise the greatest concerns that the increased costs might exclude older and poorer people from studying.

The report identified unemployed people as the most driven group in the over 40 age range to return to studying.

Under the new college loans system, which will be introduced from 2013, people over the age of 24 who want to take a qualification equivalent to A-level and above will have to take out loans to pay the full cost of their courses.

Last summer a government study warned that just one in 10 people aged 24 and over would definitely undertake a further education course at college if the new loans system were introduced.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The government's excuse to cut funding for adults to concentrate resources on the younger generation completely falls down when you study today's report. At a time of high unemployment ministers should be looking to make it easier for people to retrain and study at college instead of coming up with new ways to price them out.'

The full report is available here (.pdf).