Revealed: vast majority of loans-only providers are less than good

From FE Week:

A massive 80 per cent of providers that only deliver provision funded by advanced learner loans have been rated less than good by Ofsted, FE Week analysis has revealed.

But despite this “shocking” statistic – which covers provision worth millions and affects thousands of learners – the education watchdog was tight-lipped on whether it was upping its monitoring of loans-only providers.

Furthermore, the Department for Education has revealed that not all loans providers are submitting vital performance data – meaning some could be dodging inspection.

Our findings have prompted Robert Halfon, chair of the influential commons select committee, to demand urgent action. “It is shocking that so many students who are taking the risk of a loan are experiencing substandard training,” he told FE Week.

Our investigation “must spur the relevant agencies and Ofsted to take urgent remedial action to ensure that students get the quality training they deserve,” he said.

FE Week’s analysis is based on a list given to us by Ofsted of the providers whose only source of government funding was advanced learner loans that had had inspection reports published by the end of October, to which we added those that had been published in November.

That gave a total of 20 loans-only providers to have been inspected by Ofsted.

Of those, eight have resulted in an ‘inadequate’ grade and a further eight were graded ‘requires improvement’, while just four were rated ‘good’. None have received an ‘outstanding’ rating.

The reports published to date reveal a catalogue of alarming findings – including learners at one provider being duped into taking out a loan.

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