Economic Affairs Committee | The Economics of Post-School Education | Part-time & flexible learning

over the last six years we've seen a dramatic reduction in the number of people in part-time higher education a reduction about sixty percent this looks as if it's as a direct result of the financial incentives changing for both educational providers and for students we've come face to face with the fact that the system is predicated on 18 year old full-time students it is designed for all that the numbers that have declined are those over 25 years olds are the more mature students this is a time when careers for life are definitely a thing of the past we all know that we're going to have to acquire more skills as we grow older and the economy changes and technology changes so it's even more important that we see more adult learners who are much more likely to need to learn on a part-time basis technology is moving so quickly there's also impacting the world of work and the world of business so quickly that it's going to become absolutely the norm that people are going to have to retrain re skills build on their skill sets throughout their careers if they're going to be successful and that is the mindset that we need to to get into we need to encourage flexible learning both by creating the right incentives for education providers to put on the courses and also make it affordable and manageable for students to study part-time through leveling the playing field in access to loans and to maintenance support I would have to accept that that is one of my biggest regrets about my time as Minister the evidence is that the loans for part-time students have not worked that there does need to be forms of direct support to reflect the fact that part-time learners have clearly been disincentivized but this alone will not be enough we need to create a ladder whereas a learner you require credits as you do elements of what might in time become a higher level qualification that will reduce the cost and open up the access to higher level qualifications and enable us to expand the population of people learning as they mature you

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