Applications for adult student loans have jumped eight per cent year-on-year, according to figures published yesterday by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
For the new academic year, 32,140 eligible applications were received for 24+ Advanced Learning Loans, an increase of 2,410 applications from the same period last year. Applications for the loan closed in July.
The loans were introduced in 2013 to help learners aged over 24 pay the fees charged by training providers for level 3 and 4 courses, including A-levels, Access to Higher Education Diplomas and Certificates.
The highest number of applications to be sent from one age band were by 24- to 30-year-olds, who sent 14,130 applications. All other age ranges – including people aged over 50 – recorded an increase.
Stephen Evans, deputy chief executive at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), feels that these figures are “a welcome increase”, but fall short of the scale needed to deliver the skills the economy needs.
“Advanced learning loans are not working as they need to at present," he said.
"Based on past trends, around 100,000 applications would’ve been needed to put us on track to utilise the full loans allocation for this year and fill the skills gaps that hold back productivity and social mobility. Our low skills base has long held us back as a nation. We must do better,” Mr Evans added.