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Cash bait to lure reluctant students

GOVERNMENT plans to support lifelong learning with hard cash go nationwide today but not all courses will be eligible for support.

Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) "will provide financial support to people the Government most wants to help into learning", says the Department for Education and Employment on its website.

Future learners, aged 19 and over, can open an account with pound;25 of their own money. The Government will put in pound;150 towards course fees and materials and give discounts of 20 per cent and 80 per cent on work-related learning.

By helping financially and making individuals less dependent on employer support, the Government hopes to attract those working-class people who are least likely to continue their education.

The 80 per cent discount goes to support people who want to improve their basic literacy, maths and technology skills up to national vocational qualification level 2. These could include appropriate subjects at GCSE and general national vocational qualification foundation level,as well as qualifications awarded by City and Guilds and BTEC.

The pound;150 and 20 per cent

discount applies to work-related training.

The Government's intention to focus on groups traditionally less involved in education and on work-related skills has necessitated some fine-tuning in the choice of courses which qualify for support.

School students, whose education is already state-funded, are excluded, as are leisure courses and sporting activities. Statutory training, such as health and safety, will also not be included.The overlap between academic, professional and vocational qualifications could become a grey area. Higher education and professional training have traditionally been paid for by individuals and will not be supported by ILAs. However, NVQs at levels 4 and 5 are regarded as work-based and are therefore eligible. Since NVQs at this level are regarded as the equivalent of degrees and professional qualifications, this ruling could raise questions about their status.

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