HEPI recently published a lengthy collection of essays on the crisis in part-time study. The book included data on the problem, suggestions for how to tackle it and a chapter from London Economics on how the Government have almost certainly exaggerated the non-repayment of student loans from part-time students.
This has now been confirmed by Jo Johnson himself in a parliamentary answer:
Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South):
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what estimate he has made of the portion of loan outlay that will never be repaid by graduates who have undertaken (a) full-time and (b) part-time higher education degrees.
Jo Johnson (Minister for Universities and Science):
(a) We estimate that the proportion of the value of full time loans which will not be repaid is around 45%.
(b) Our current estimate is that around 40% of the value of part time loans will not be repaid. We will update our estimate as we get more information on the actual repayments from students taking out these loans.
This is an overdue recognition that, while the predicted level of non-repayment by full-time students was set too low, the opposite has been the case for part-time students.
The contribution to the HEPI collection by Peter Horrocks, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University (OU), usefully noted some of the background to this new announcement:
‘The official estimate [of non-repayment of student loans] for part- time students has been 65 per cent, although this is now being revised following the submission of new data by the OU. It is possible that once the new figures have been passed through the Whitehall number-crunching machine, the official figure will fall below that for full-time students. That would send a clear message to policymakers that part-time students are, in many ways, a better bet economically than their full-time counterparts.’
Fingers crossed it is setting the Government up for an announcement on supporting part-time students at the Spending Review on Wednesday, 25th November.