Getting an education doesn’t stop when you leave school. We want to make sure people have the opportunity to learn, upskill and retrain over the course of their lifetime with our Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) plan.
Under the plans, people looking to retrain will be able to apply for a flexible student loan throughout their working lifetime to help upskill and progress in their careers.
The Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Bill became law on 18 September. But what does this mean for you?
Here we explain everything you need to know about LLE.
What is the Lifelong Learning Entitlement?
People will be able to apply for a loan under the LLE, worth the equivalent of four years of post-18 education – that’s £37,000 in today’s tuition fees.
The loan can be used flexibly over people’s working lives to pay for full or part-time study for a variety of courses, such as higher technical and degree levels. It can be used to pay for both short modules and full years of study, regardless of whether they're provided in colleges, universities or independent training providers.
The plans will come into effect from 2025.
How will the LLE help students?
As well as funding traditional three- or four-year degree courses, the LLE will offer alternative routes through Higher Education to support people throughout their careers.
It will create more flexibility for people to decide when and how they want to study, helping them to upskill and progress in the way and at the time that works for them.
This could help them balance training or studies alongside other commitments such as childcare or financial commitments.
How will the LLE work?
Students will be able to manage their loans in a personal account where they will be able to keep track of their studies and stay on top of how much funding they have left.
For the first time, all in-person learners – whether they are studying full-time, part-time or on modules – will be able to access maintenance funding on the same basis.
This will set flexible study and technical courses on a par with traditional full-time academic study, and open new training opportunities for people from all backgrounds.
How does the Act support the LLE?
Under the Act, universities and colleges will need to use a new credit-based method for calculating the maximum level of tuition fees they can charge for different courses.
It will mean the amount a student can be charged is proportionate, whether they take up a short course, a module or a traditional full course.
Will students who have already finished university be able to access LLE funds?
People up to the age of 60 will be entitled to the LLE, including returning students, giving them access to any remaining funding once previous government-funded study has been considered.
For instance, this means that people who previously received government funding for a three-year degree at the maximum fee limit will still be entitled to one year’s worth of funding. This could be used to fund another short course or module.
Under the new system, returning students will be able to study for a qualification at the same or a lower level than any qualification they previously studied – something that the current system doesn’t allow.
For example, from 2025, someone who previously had taken out a student loan to study a three-year geography degree will then be entitled to one year’s worth of finance to study a Data Analyst Higher Technical Qualification.
What happens next?
Now that the Bill has been made into law, we will continue with the detailed planning needed to launch in 2025, and later this year we will announce more details about who will be eligible for the loan and how it will work.
We are also continuing to work with the Student Loans Company to design the lifelong learning accounts platform, where students will be able to sign up and keep track of their LLE and receive clear signposting to available courses.
You can find the latest by signing up for updates on the LLE gov.uk page.