What are the consequences of the newly implemented 24+Advanced Learning Loans on retention of adult Access to Higher Education students?

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Burns, Jane Marie ; Slack, Kim (2015)

This article discusses the previous literature on student retention in the postcompulsory\ud education sector and the ‘24+Advanced Learning Loan’. Adult\ud students participating in an Access to Higher Education course are at particularly\ud high risk of non-completion. Literature indicates that whilst stakeholders may\ud require factual statistics regarding education, the reasons for student withdrawal\ud are often multiple and complex, hence this research was conducted via a mixedmethods\ud approach. This study took place at a large inner-city college of further\ud education in Staffordshire, England. A full population sample of the college’s\ud existing data was analysed, tutors participated in short, informal, unstructured\ud one-to-one interviews, the author produced fieldnotes relating to retention and 12\ud adult students from the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Health\ud self-selected to participate in short semi-structured interviews about student retention.\ud Data showed that students aged 24 years and over were already less likely\ud to withdraw from their course prior to the introduction of the 24+Advanced\ud Learning Loan, and that the introduction of the loan had little impact on this data.\ud Interview transcripts and fieldnotes indicated mixed opinions amongst students\ud regarding the 24+Loan, that the application process had been overly complex and\ud that the introduction of loans had produced an increased divide between older\ud and younger students. Recommendations for students, college staff, managers\ud and policy writers are discussed in light of the findings of this study.
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