Will students get maintenance when studying a module?

Who says this is a government that can’t get anything done?

Jim is an Associate Editor at Wonkhe

It was just under five years ago that the Westminster government announced a review of post-18 education and funding.

As well as asking for advice on encouraging learning that is more flexible, the terms of reference called for recommendations on maintenance support.

When Phillip Augar’s panel made its case, one of its big ideas was taking the credit framework and slicing funding accordingly.

Hence students being able to access loan funding for one module at a time emerged as a core aspect of what’s now called the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, some legislation around which has just been introduced to Parliament.

But Augar wasn’t concerned only with tuition fees – the panel proposed that maintenance might also be drawn down on a pro-rated basis.

Two years later, the government’s “interim conclusion” said nothing on the subject – and a year after that in its formal response it was still silent on Augar’s main recommendations on maintenance, although it did announce that students on Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) would be able access maintenance loans when studying part-time from this September.

So now another year on that the legislation on fees is out, you might reasonably have thought that the policy summary note accompanying it would address the maintenance issue.

You’d have been wrong.

Buried at the back under the headline “Will all LLE-funded provision be eligible for maintenance support”, we just get:

The government is clear on the important role maintenance support plays in allowing learners to access and participate in their studies. We are therefore considering how maintenance should be adapted for the delivery of the LLE.

On 6 May 2022, the government concluded the consultation on the LLE, including on how to support students to engage in lifelong learning. The government is carefully considering the contributions and will publish its response in due course, which will provide details on maintenance support available under the LLE.

That “due course” confection and the eventual response to the LLE consultation is also the vehicle that the government has been touting as the new bearer of news on Sharia-compliant student finance – first promised in 2013 by someone called David Cameron.

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