The UK government has announced the Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Bill. The Bill will allow the rollout of the Lifelong loan entitlement in 2025. However, there are still areas of the system that need to be fleshed out, and a general election in 2024 may impact the rollout. We will update this page as more information becomes available.
The Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) is a new form of student finance for adult learners announced by the UK government. The LLE will replace the existing undergraduate student finance system from 2025 onwards.
This new type of education loan is designed to be a lot more flexible than the current system and help adults upskill or retrain at any stage in their careers. From 2025, every adult in the UK will be able to access the equivalent of four years of post-18 education funding at today’s tuition fees, which equates to a loan entitlement of £37,000.
As well as a new loan system, new courses will be offered in addition to existing higher education qualifications. These new courses will be based on industry demand and modular in structure, which means that over their career, a person may take a wide range of different modules as their work changes. Under the current plans, the new modular courses will be stackable, leading to full qualifications.
Advanced Learner Loans and Student Loans Combined
The LLE combines two current loan systems; Student Loans and Advanced Learner Loans. There are questions about how this merger will work, which is one reason for the rollout’s start date of 2025.
Why Is the Government Changing Higher Education Funding?
The LLE is designed to reflect and support people throughout their working lives. People no longer stay in one profession or sector. It is common for people to have two or three separate careers throughout their working lives.
As technological advances increase, some industries and roles will disappear completely while new sectors and roles emerge that require new skill sets.
What Does This Mean for Adult Learners?
All adults in the UK up to the age of 60 will be able to access a lifelong loan entitlement, the equivalent of 4 years of full-time higher education. The new system will mean greater access to finance to take more university-level courses throughout a person’s career.
How Is the Lifelong Loan Different from the Existing Student Finance Loans?
The new LLE will cover four years of education, adding an extra year of study to the current student finance system.
Under the current Student Loan system, the Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) rule means that you can not get funding for a qualification at the same level or lower as your highest qualification.
For example, from 2025 onwards, you could complete a degree in marketing using the LLE and, after five years of working, use your remaining LLE to fund retraining as a programmer by taking level 4,5 or 6 courses. Under the current system, no funding would be available to retrain unless you took a master’s degree and used a Master’s Loan.
Another difference is that short courses will be eligible for funding. The government will work with higher education providers to offer modular courses that can be stacked to build complete qualifications.
How Much Finance Will Be Available From the Lifelong Loan Entitlement?
From 2025, everyone between 18 and 60 will have access to a dashboard showing them how much LLE they have available and the courses that are eligible for funding. UK adults will be able to use the equivalent of 4 years of full-time study tuition on a broader range of eligible courses. At today’s tuition fee cap, this equates to £37,000 for courses at Levels 4, 5 and 6.
Who Will Be Eligible for LLE?
All UK adults between 18 and 60 will have access to LLE. If you already have a student loan, you will still have access to the LLE, but the amount available will be less the amount you have already used.
What Type of Courses Can the LLE Be Used for?
The lifelong loan entitlement will be available for higher and further education courses at levels 4, 5 and 6. The LLE is much more flexible than the current system; for example, a person could take the equivalent of 4 years of level 4 qualifications during their working life. Under the current system, only one level 4 qualification would be eligible for a student loan.
The LLE will recognise technical qualifications the same as academic courses. Higher Technical Qualifications at levels 4 and 5 will be treated the same as university courses, and a person could take multiple HTC throughout their career.
The LLE will be available for new types of short courses and modular provisions that will be launched in stages. The first, to launch before 2025, will be technical qualifications at levels 4 and 5, with level 6 courses launched by 2027. People will be able to take modules over their working lives, and once they have enough short courses or modules, they can be stacked into a full qualification.
When Will the LLE Become Available?
The LLE will replace the current undergraduate loan system for the academic year 2025/26. This gives the government and universities time to introduce the new modular courses.
What Are Adult Learner Funding Options Until the LLE Is Launched?
Students looking to take level 4, 5, or 6 courses using student finance before the 2025 academic year can still use the existing student loans system. Advanced Learner Loans are available for college courses at levels 4 to 6.
Student Finance for postgraduate study remains unaffected, and students will still be able to use a master’s loan to fund this level of qualification.
We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available