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Michelle Donelan set out plans to shake-up higher education, saying education will not slip back into its “pre-pandemic comfort zone.”
In a speech to the higher education sector, Ms Donelan said the new Lifelong Loan Entitlement, will create a “fundamental and seismic shift” in the way people learn throughout their lives.
Setting out details of the plan, she said from 2025 people will be able to log in to a “lifelong learning account” to access a loan to fund the equivalent of four years of post-18 study.
She said: “Their loan entitlement can fund flexible study, whether full courses or module-by-module, as-and-when they want throughout their life.”
She compared the scheme to the NHS, saying that regardless of background or wealth, people deserve access to “what was previously a closed system.”
She added: “For too long Higher education been predominantly undertaken between the ages of 18- 22 and our system has not supported or developed a culture of lifelong learning.”
Universities will also be required to set ambitious targets to reduce dropout rates and improve graduate progression into high-paid skilled jobs under the Government’s levelling-up plans, she said.
Higher education institutions will be expected to improve education outcomes for poorer children in local schools and colleges through activities - including offering lecturers and students to tutor pupils.