Government allows easier access to student loan support

Posted on 20 Aug 2015 by The Manufacturer

From next month, more people will have the opportunity to retrain and gain Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) and Master of Engineering degrees with The Open University as a result of the government’s relaxation of the Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) policy.

Previously, students who already held a Higher Education qualification were not eligible to apply for a Tuition Fee Loan.

From September, following the relaxation in the Government’s funding policy for STEM students, those wishing to study Bachelor of Engineering or Master of Engineering at The Open University (OU), irrespectively of their previous qualification, will now have access to loan support.  

With an urgent shortage in engineering skills and with up to 90% of the current workforce still working over the next decade, The Open University’s believes “it is vital to have routes for the existing workforce to upskill and retrain.”

The extension of loan support from Student Finance England for engineering, technology and computer science qualifications will enable thousands the opportunity to gain engineering skills to change or improve their careers.

Programme Director for Design and Engineering at The Open University, Jan Kowal explained the significance of loan support: “This move by the Government to help close the STEM skills gap is a positive step in the right direction.

“There are countless recent surveys and reports which point to a skills gap in the engineering sector, and there is a desperate need for people with the correct skills and training – a combination of technical specialisms and soft skills, to be placed in UK businesses to keep our economy going strong.

Associate Dean (Curriculum and Qualifications) at The Open University, Alison Bettley added: “At The Open University we pride ourselves on our ability to provide courses and qualifications to those who wouldn’t usually be able to enrol in a ‘traditional’ university degree course due to other existing commitments, such as a full time job, or looking after children or relatives.

“While the relaxation affects many different university courses across the country, the distinctive flexible learning options offered by The Open University opens this opportunity up to more people.”

The Open University engineering qualifications are accredited for Chartered Engineer status by The Institute of Engineering Designers (IED) and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

A pathway through the qualifications has also been accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).