It’s good that universities oppose limits to education (Universities oppose plan for student cap and loans in England, 9 May). But when it comes to adult education and lifelong learning, the problem is not just limits on loan access – it’s debt itself.
The disastrous collapse in part-time education in Britain caused by the coalition government’s tripling of university fees was due to its denial that getting into debt in later life is different from making a life choice of whether to go to university aged 18. For adult learners, it may be a choice between taking a loan to study or having a family holiday that year.
Research published in Wonkhe this week confirms support for lifelong learning, but not for forcing adult learners deeper into debt. As the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning said in its response to the government’s consultation, the entitlement should be to lifelong learning, not to getting into debt. Funding needs to be made available for older adults to re-enter education – other than in the form of loans.
Prof Jonathan Michie
Chair, Universities Association for Lifelong Learning