Financial Year 2019-20

Student loan forecasts for England

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  1. Additional footnotes have been added to the data tables provided in this release.

Introduction

This publication presents Department for Education (DfE) forecasts of higher education student numbers, student loan outlay and student loan repayments in England for financial years 2019-20 to 2024-25 and academic years covering the same period. Statistics on historical student loan outlay and repayments are published by the Student Loans Company (SLC).  


Headline facts and figures - 2019-20

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About this release

This statistics publication provides forecasts for higher education and further education student loans in England. These include forecasts of student numbers, student loan outlay and student loan repayments. Only income contingent student loans issued to English domiciled students studying in the UK or EU domiciled students studying in England are included. The forecasts are based on models developed by the Department for Education (DfE), details of quality and methodology are provided in the methodology document accompanying this publication. 

This is the third in an annual series of statistics publications on student loan forecasts. It covers forecasts produced during the 2019-20 financial year, primarily covering the period 2019-20 to 2024-25.  This is the same period for which the Office for Budget Responsibility produced forecasts in their Fiscal Sustainability Report 2020. The forecasts of this publication consider limited impacts of Covid-19 (Covid). Economic forecasts are based on the Central scenario forecast by the OBR in their Fiscal Sustainability Report 2020.  However, the impact of (now removed) temporary Student Number Controls and the recent change to use Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) for A Levels on the student finance entrant population, and the subsequent impacts of such changes in student numbers on student loans outlay and repayments, have not been considered. 

Any changes to economic forecasts and student finance policy could affect the student loan forecasts presented in this publication. Recently announced changes in student finance eligibility for EU domiciles have not been included in this forecast. EU domiciled entrant forecasts have been assumed flat from 2020-21 onwards.  

We have been considering the Augar Report and its recommendations carefully. We plan to respond to the report alongside the Spending Review, providing the sector and students with certainty about the future of post-18 education and funding. Any changes to student loan eligibility, quantum or terms and conditions, if implemented by Government, could affect the forecasts presented in this publication. 

The accompanying Technical notes document provides information on the models, their data sources and the methodology and assumptions used in producing the forecasts. 

We welcome feedback on this publication and the forecasts presented within it at he.modelling@education.gov.uk

Covid-19 assumptions

Student numbers

Forecasts in this publication were developed in March 2020, prior to gauging impacts from Covid-19 (Covid). The full impact is still currently unknown and inherently uncertain due to the complexity of the situation regarding Covid and the vast array of factors that may impact both student and provider behaviour, ultimately driving student numbers. 

As the forecasts were developed prior to A-level results and subsequent decisions on the method used to assign grades in the absence of exam results, the English domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants forecasts should not be interpreted as indicative of student numbers under impact of Covid and the relevant events that have occurred in light of it. Furthermore, the EU domiciled full-time undergraduate entrant forecasts do not model the impacts of Covid on travel to and study in the UK.  

Nursing, midwifery and AHP forecasts do not consider the full impacts that Covid may have on the uptake of these courses from academic year 2020/21 onwards. The student entrant forecasts also do not consider the removal of caps on the number of medicine and dentistry entrants.  

The data included in the student entrants model to produce the 2020/21 full-time undergraduate entrant forecast do not capture any impacts that could already be seen from Covid. The latest UCAS applicant data included is of the 15 January deadline, which would likely show little to no impact, as whilst Covid was first reported to World Health Organisation (WHO) on 31 December 2019, WHO did not declare it as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern until 30 January 2020. It is unlikely that applicants behaviour would have changed within the two weeks following the first reporting of Covid. 

Student loan outlay and repayments

The Covid Central scenario from the OBR Fiscal Sustainability Report, July 2020 provides projected macroeconomic determinants covering up until financial year 2024-25. The student loan repayments forecast makes use of these Covid scenario projections. The RPI and earnings projections converge to the pre-Covid figures, from the OBR Economic and Fiscal Outlook - March 2020, in 2025-26. The Bank of England base rate for 2025-26 and beyond is assumed to converge to the projected pre-Covid value by financial year 2039-40.  

Student entrants forecasts

The DfE student entrant model forecasts the number of full-time undergraduate entrants to higher education institutions (HEIs) and former designated Alternative Providers (APs) registered as Approved (fee cap) as part of the Office for Students (OfS, the higher education regulator) registration. Specifically, the forecast includes English domiciled entrants to UK providers and EU domiciled entrants to English providers. As a subset of these entrants, the model forecasts tuition fee loan-eligible entrants, which are those entrants eligible to receive tuition fee loans from the Student Loans Company (SLC). 

Since 2017-18, nursing, midwifery and allied health profession (AHP) entrants have been eligible to apply for student loans support for tuition fees. The reform means that these entrants are also forecast alongside English and EU domiciled loan-eligible entrants, though separately to monitor the impact of the reform and subsequent policies aimed at increasing the uptake of these courses. 

The OfS registration, effective from 2019/20, requires English providers who desire designated status to register with the OfS under one of two categories: Approved or Approved (fee cap). Approved providers are not subject to fee limits, but students attending these providers are only eligible for student support up to the basic fee amount. For Approved (fee cap) providers, the exact fees they are permitted to charge depends on whether they have an Access and Participation Plan (APP) and Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) rating. Depending on the permitted fees, the students of these providers are entitled to the maximum tuition fee loan of £9,250 per year. The coverage of the forecast in the student entrants model generally aligns to Approved (fee cap) providers, being those providers eligible to charge the maximum full-time undergraduate tuition fees (see the technical notes document for further detail of the OfS registration and how the impact has been estimated).

Figure 1(a) shows the forecast number of full-time undergraduate entrants eligible for tuition fee loans. Overall, the number of  full-time undergraduate entrants eligible for tuition fee loans inclusive of nursing, midwifery and AHP, are forecast to grow 11% between 2018/19 and 2024/25. This is driven by changes to the English domicile population. Particularly, growth in the 18-year-old population, which is projected to grow 8% over the same period. Moreover, large growth is seen in 2019/20 due to the introduction of entrants of former designated APs registered as Approved (fee cap) to the forecast. This contributes to 3% of the overall growth across the period 2018/19 to 2024/25. 

Nursing, midwifery and AHP loan-eligible entrants are forecast to grow quite substantially, from 30,000 in 2018/19 to 42,000 in 2024/25. This forecast is based on the total clinical places to be funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), with a judgement made by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) on the uptake of these places to produce its March 2020 forecast. Growth is also driven by specific policies aimed at increasing the uptake of nursing, midwifery and AHP courses. For Budget 2020, the Government announced a policy for an additional 50,000 nurses by 2025 (see the associated press release here). To help achieve this, additional growth is reflected in the forecast to recruit roughly an additional 7,000 nursing, midwifery and AHP entrants per year from 2020/21. The forecasts do not consider the full impacts that Covid-19 may have on the uptake of nursing, midwifery and AHP courses from AY 2020/21 onwards. 

Figure 1(b) shows the forecast number of full-time higher education undergraduate course entrants, by domicile.

English domiciled entrants are forecast to grow 9% between 2018/19 and 2024/25. As well as the drivers already discussed, growth for these entrants is also driven by projected growth in application rates for 18-year-olds as well as growth in acceptance rates for students of all age groups. Despite growth in the 18-year-old population in 2021/22 and 2022/23, the growth in English domiciled entrants for these two years is forecast to be quite low due to a knock-on effect of the population decline for 19- and 20-year-olds in subsequent years. 

Growth in EU domiciled entrants is driven by historic trends of applicant and student behaviour from UCAS and HESA data. At the point of production of the forecast, student finance was confirmed for EU domiciled entrants only up to and including 2020/21. Due to the uncertainty regarding future EU funding policy, the EU domiciled entrant forecast was held constant from 2020/21. In June 2020, the Government announced the removal of home fee status (HFS) and loan access in England for EU students from 2021 (there will be some entrants who are still eligible, depending on when they arrived in the UK and when they start their course). The forecast does not reflect this announcement. 

Figure 2 shows the forecast percentage change in England- and EU-domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants, and the total 18-year-old population, relative to the previous academic year. Notable changes since the 2018-19 publication include the trend for forecast English domiciled entrants between 2019/20 and 2022/23. Previously, we forecast a decline in these entrants in 2020/21 and 2021/22 due to the cumulative impact of the 18-year-old population (and 19- and 20-year-old population in subsequent years) decline. However, recent HESA entrants outturn revealed that English domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants continued to grow in 2018/19 despite population decline. Therefore, the forecasts in this publication assume that providers will strive to at least maintain, but slightly increase, student numbers during the period of cumulative youth population decline (2020/21 and 2021/22).  

Student loan outlay forecasts

The Department for Education (DfE) student loan outlay model and Advanced Learner Loans model forecast the amount that the DfE expects to lend to students taking out loans via the Student Loans Company (SLC). The SLC manages a number of different loan products which are available to students studying different types of qualification. 

The following loan products are available: 

  • Plan 1 loans – the loan system for students that started courses before September 2012 that are eligible for undergraduate student support funding, consisting of fee loans and maintenance loans. 
  • Plan 2 full-time higher education loans – the loan system for students on full-time courses that started since September 2012 that are eligible for undergraduate student support funding, consisting of fee loans and maintenance loans. 
  • Plan 2 part-time higher education loans – the loan system for students on part-time courses that are eligible for undergraduate student support funding. These first became available in September 2012, consisting of a tuition fee loan. Since August 2018 maintenance loans are also available to some part-time students. 
  • Advanced Learner Loans – a fee loan available to further education learners who meet the eligibility criteria. These were introduced in August 2013 and are on the Plan 2 repayment system.  
  • Postgraduate master’s loans – loans available to master’s students to help cover fees and living costs. They were introduced in August 2016 and are on the Plan 3 repayment system. 
  • Postgraduate doctoral loans – loans that became available to doctoral students in August 2018 to help cover fees and living costs. They are on the Plan 3 repayment system. 

Figure 3(a) shows the student loan outlay forecast by loan product for the financial years 2019-20 to 2024-25. Total student loan outlay is forecast to increase from £17.6 billion in 2019-20 to £22.1 billion in 2024-25, in nominal terms. The annual increases in student loan outlay are expected to increase from 4% in financial year 2020-21 to a peak of 5% in financial year 2022-23.

Some of the forecast increase in student loan outlay is as a result of several changes made to the student loans policy by Government. Maintenance grants were replaced with maintenance loans for new entrants from academic year 2016/17, and new nursing, midwifery and most allied health entrants from 2017/18 became eligible for student loans for financial support in place of receiving NHS bursaries. These changes will lead to increases in loan outlay each year until the new policy applies to students in all course years. The introduction of master’s loans in 2016/17, and doctoral loans and maintenance loans for part-time higher education students in 2018/19 are also expected to lead to further increases (complete information on the student finance arrangements in England can be found at: https://www.practitioners.slc.co.uk/policy/). No Plan 1 loan outlay is forecast  as these loans are only available to students who started courses prior to September 2012 and the model assumes all students receive a maximum of 6 years of support from when they start their course. 

It is assumed that the maximum loan amounts that students can take out will increase each academic year by forecast RPIX inflation measure, as forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). Because the majority of borrowers take out the maximum loan available to them, it is assumed that the average loan amount take-out will also increase by this amount. The exception is that in academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21, higher education tuition fee maximums have been fixed at the same level as in 2018/19. Instead a smaller increase in average outlay is assumed to allow for providers increasing fees on courses for which they are not already charging the maximum (see the methodology document accompanying this release for details and for more information on the model assumptions). 

The increase in the forecast from 2021-22 to 2024-25 is driven by the increase in the Plan 2 loans based on the assumption that fee and maintenance loans will increase by forecast RPIX inflation.  The government announcements on keeping undergraduate 2021/22 tuition fees at 2020/21 levels are not included in these forecasts. 

Plan 3 postgraduate loans are forecast to increase year-on-year due to projected growth in loan take-up by current and additional students over this period. 

Advanced Learner Loans outlay is forecast to increase from £202m in 2019-20 to £215m in 2024-25. The annual increases are driven by the assumption that fees will increase by forecast inflation, but borrower numbers are expected to remain steady. 

Figure 3(b) shows the historical and forecast student loan outlay for full-time and part-time higher education maintenance and tuition fee loans.

Student loan repayment forecasts

The DfE student loan repayment model and Advanced Learner Loans model forecast the future repayments that DfE expects borrowers to make on loans taken out under the English student loan system, which are used to value total student loan balances in the DfE annual accounts. Future repayments can also be presented as relative measures of Government subsidy, which includes the Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) charge and stock charge. 

The Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) charge and the stock charge 

The RAB and stock charges are the estimated cost to Government of providing a subsidy for the student finance system. They are the proportion of loan outlay (the RAB charge) and of the total outstanding loans (the stock charge) that are expected to not be repaid when future repayments are valued in present terms. 

See the quality and methodology document accompanying this publication for more information. 

For 2019-20 the key results are: 

  • The RAB charge for Plan 2 full-time higher education loans is 53%. While most borrowers will repay at least some of their loan, the income contingent nature of the loans means that most loan borrowers are not expected to fully repay their whole loan balance in full. This is because of the combination of the size of their initial loan amounts, the level of the earnings threshold above which borrowers are required to make repayments (£25,725 in 2019-20) and the interest rate on the loans that varies between RPI and RPI+3% depending on a borrower’s income and whether they are still studying.
  • For part-time higher education students, the RAB charge is 45%. Part-time students generally take out smaller loans than full-time students, meaning they are more likely to repay a higher proportion of their loans. Maintenance loans for part-time students were extended to on-campus, degree level borrowers only in 2018/19. Distance learners and on-campus, sub-degree borrowers were eligible for tuition fee loans only.
  • The Advanced Learner Loans RAB charge is 69%. While Advanced Learner Loan borrowers typically take out smaller loan amounts than higher education loan borrowers,  they are also expected to have comparably lower future earnings than higher education loan borrowers. A proportion of the loans are also written off early, as students that receive a loan while studying for an Access to Higher Education Diploma will have their loan balance written off if they go on to complete a higher education course. The increase in Advanced Learner Loan RAB charge relative to the 2018-19 value is largely due to the provision of improved data inputs to inform Advanced Learner Loan holders earnings forecasts. For more information see the technical notes accompanying this release.
  • Master’s loans have a RAB charge of 0%, meaning that it is expected that the overall net present value of borrowers’ future repayments will be at least as high as their initial loan outlay. Compared to the other loan products, master’s loan borrowers generally receive smaller loan amounts than Plan 2 borrowers, and are expected to have higher earnings. They also have a lower repayment threshold than Plan 2 borrowers (fixed at £21,000 until 2020-21) and a higher interest rate of RPI+3% that will result in many of them repaying a higher amount.
  • The Plan 1 stock charge is 37%. This covers loans issued to students that started courses between academic years 1998/99 and 2011/12, which have not been repaid in full by the start of 2019-20. It is lower than the Plan 2 higher education stock charge as these borrowers took out smaller loans and have a lower repayment threshold (£18,935 in tax year 2019-20). This is despite Plan 1 having a lower interest rate and entrants from 2006/07 having their loans cancelled 25 years after they become liable to make repayments (compared to 30 years under Plan 2). Note that these figures do not provide a direct comparison of the overall level of Government subsidy provided to the higher education sector under each system, as the Plan 1 system also involved a higher level of teaching and maintenance grants than the current Plan 2 system (a comparison of how the balance of contributions between taxpayers and students has changed over time under different systems can be found in the “Estimating the changing cost of the English higher education system to taxpayers and students” annex of the Augar Report).

Figure 4 shows the forecast RAB charges in financial years 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21. These cover loans issued in each financial year to English domiciled students studying in the UK and EU domiciled students studying in England. RAB charges forecast up until financial year 2024-25 are available in this release.  

Figure 5 shows the forecast stock charges in financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20. These cover loans issued, up to the start of the financial year, to English domiciled students studying in the UK and EU domiciled students studying in England. 

The Stock and RAB charge forecasts rely on earnings and repayment projections forecast over the next 30-40 years, and are sensitive to the assumptions used in the models. For example, an RPI of 1 percentage point (pp) lower beginning from financial year 2019-20 would lower the forecast 2019-20 RAB charge by up to 5pp for Plan 2 loans. The percentage point change in 2019-20 plan 2 RAB charge forecasts as a consequence of varying key individual economic and policy model inputs is documented in the RAB charge sensitivity data accompanying this publication. For more details please see the quality and methodology document accompanying this release.

Since the last student loan forecasts release in June 2019, there have been revisions to the data, economic assumptions, policies and modelling methodology used within the student loan repayment and earnings models. These updates will all contribute to varying degrees to any changes over time in the forecast of figures such as RAB charge, stock charge and percentage of borrowers expected to fully repay their student loans. 

Though this is not the only driver, the use of OBR Central  Covid scenario projections for RPI, bank rate and earnings growth increases the RAB charge for all plan types in comparison to forecasts as of June 2019. Updates and improvements to the forecast models are responsible for the largest changes in forecasts relative to those published for 2018-19. More details on this can be found in the technical notes accompanying this publication. 

In addition to the Central Covid scenario, the economic projections of which were used to produce the repayment forecasts in this publication, the OBR published an Upside and Downside Covid scenario in their Fiscal Sustainability Report, July 2020. The Upside scenario projects a sharper rebound in activity due to Covid than the Central scenario, with no medium-term economic scarring, whereas the Downside scenario projects a slower recovery than the Central scenario, with more significant economic scarring. The Plan 2 2019-20 RAB charges increase by  around 1pp relative to our nominal projections when using economic inputs from the Downside OBR Covid scenario, and decrease 1pp relative to our nominal projections when using economic inputs from the Upside OBR Covid scenario.

Figure 6 shows the transfer proportion forecast for financial years 2019-20 to 2024-25. The transfer proportion is used within the Office for National Statistics (ONS) public sector finance statistics. Under the partitioned loan transfer approach, student loan outlay is partitioned into lending and transfer elements. Conceptually the transfer proportion is the fraction of student loan outlay identified at loan inception as government expenditure, in recognition that this portion of the loan is unlikely to be repaid. 

The transfer proportion differs from the RAB charge in the way future repayments are discounted to present values. This reflects the different use of the transfer proportion and RAB charges. Further information is available in the ONS discussion on the alternative valuations of future repayments.


The 2018-19 transfer proportions provided in Figure 6 are forecast using the model configuration from the previous release in June 2019 (though transfer proportion figures were not published in the June 2019 release). Since this time, there have been revisions to the data, economic assumptions, policies and modelling methodology used within the student finance forecasting models. The transfer proportion forecast for Advanced Learner Loans sees an increase of 16pp relative to the 2018-19 value. This is largely due to the provision of improved data inputs to inform Advanced Learner Loan holders earnings forecasts from 2019-20. For more information see the technical notes accompanying this release.

Figure 7 shows the proportion of students starting courses in the 2019-20 academic year that are forecast to fully repay their loans. This is lowest for full-time higher education borrowers at 25% as they will have the highest loan balances. The remaining 75% will generally repay part of their loan balance, with some almost fully repaying. The higher education full-time RAB charge is therefore closer to that of part-time higher education borrowers and Advanced Learner Loan borrowers, despite the lower proportion that finish repaying their loans.  

Despite the 0% RAB charge, around 35% of master’s loan borrowers are expected not to fully repay their loan during their 30-year repayment term. Similarly to full-time higher education borrowers, master’s loan borrowers who do not fully repay will still generally repay part, or most, of their loan balance. In addition, these borrowers have interest rates fixed at RPI+3%. This may mean that the discounted repayments of some borrowers meet or exceed the total outlay provided, but do not fully pay off the interest accrued on the loan before the end of the repayment term. 

Figure 8 shows the amount of student loan repayments forecast to be made each year from 2019-20 to 2024-25. They are expected to rise steadily over this period from £2.7 billion in 2019-20 to £4.3 billion in 2024-25. The rise is largely a result of increasing numbers of Plan 2 borrowers becoming liable to make repayments over this period, whereas the amount repaid by Plan 1 borrowers flattens out. It is expected that the number of student loan borrowers liable to make repayments will rise from 4.3 million in 2019-20 to around 7.0 million in 2024-25. 

The SLC have published preliminary repayments figures for 2019-20 in their August 2020 release. From financial year 2019-20 the frequency in which repayments data was provided to SLC by HMRC increased from annually (within one year of the financial year ending) to weekly. Repayments are reported within the financial year they are posted to customers accounts, and so prior to this more frequent data sharing repayments posted to a given financial year were mostly from the year before. As a result of this change, which effectively provides a more up-to-date representation of student loan balances at a given point in time, total repayments reported by SLC for financial year 2019-20 include almost two years’ worth of PAYE repayments.  The impact of this transition will normalise in financial year 2020-21, where a single years' worth of PAYE repayments will be reported under the updated data sharing conditions. This situation means that the repayment forecasts in Figure 8 for 2019-20 are not directly comparable to the figures published by the SLC.

Student loan projections

Figure 9 shows the forecast outstanding balance of student loans projected over the next 50 years. These projections depend on the underlying assumptions used in their forecasting and are inherently uncertain due to inevitable uncertainties associated with these assumptions and approximations. These projections are intended to give an indication of how the outstanding balance of student loans could grow if current policies and trends continue. This long-term projection is derived by extending the following assumptions from the short-term model (which provides forecasts up until 2024-25) over the next 50 years: 

  • Average student loan outlay per borrower increases each year in line with forecasts for RPIX from the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) March 2019 Economic and fiscal outlook.
  • Loan borrower entrant numbers vary in line with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2016-based principal population projections, weighted to the age profile of new entrants for each loan product.
  • Future entrants have the same distribution of characteristics, loan amounts (uprated by RPIX) and earnings (uprated by OBR average earnings growth forecasts) as the 2024/25 entrants in the DfE student loan repayment and Advanced Learner Loans models.
  • The maximum loan amounts, repayment thresholds and interest thresholds are uprated annually as appropriate. There are no other changes to student loan policies.

Under these assumptions the outstanding balance on student loans will reach a peak of around £565 billion in 2019-20 prices in the early 2050s, as shown in Figure 6. This is at around the time that the first few cohorts of Plan 2 loan borrowers reach the end of their 30 year repayment terms and have any remaining loan balance cancelled. At this time, the nominal face value of the student loans would be approximately £1.4 trillion. 

Definitions

Academic year The year from 1 August to 31 July. Throughout the publication this is denoted in the format ‘2012/13’ to describe the year from 1 August 2012 to 31 July 2013. 
Advanced Learner Loan (ALL) A fee loan payable to Further Education (FE) providers on behalf of FE learners who meet the eligibility criteria and started a FE course on or after 1 August 2013. 
Cancelled loans 

The borrower no longer has any liability to repay as provided for in the loans regulations. A borrower’s liability is cancelled: 

  • On the death of the borrower;
  • On reaching the age or length of time cancellation criteria for their loan (which varies by loan product); or,
  • If borrower is in receipt of a disability related benefit and permanently unfit for work.
Capitalised interest The interest accrued on student loans is added to a borrower’s loan balance, rather than requiring repayment at the time it is accrued. 
Doctoral loan Loans issued to students on doctoral courses, on the Plan 3 repayment system. They are paid directly to students and can be used to cover fees or living costs. 
Domicile The usual residence of a student in the period prior to commencement of study. The financial support available to students from Government can vary for students from different domiciles. This publication includes forecasts of entrant numbers for English and EU domiciled students. Wherever ‘EU domiciled’ students are referred to this includes students domiciled in countries other than the UK that count as EU domiciled for funding purposes.   
Entrants Students in their first year of study. Defined as those starting a course in the academic year who have not been active at the same broad level of study at the same provider in either of the two previous academic years. 
Face value The total outstanding balance on student loans. This will include all previous loan outlay and accrued interest, less any repayments or loan cancellations. 
Financial year 

The year from 1 April to 31 March. Throughout the publication this is denoted in the format ‘2012-13’ to describe the year from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013. 

Some aspects of the student loan system are based on tax years (the 12-month period starting on 6 April), but as a simplification the student loan models assume that this is the same as the equivalent financial year. 

Fully repaid loan The borrower has repaid the loan in full during their repayment term without it being cancelled. 
Higher education full-time loan Loans available to students on full-time higher education courses, including first degrees, sub-degrees and certain postgraduate courses (e.g. Postgraduate Certificate in Education or PGCEs) that are eligible for the undergraduate loan system 
Higher education part-time loan Loans available to students on part-time higher education courses with an intensity of 25% or higher. 
Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) loan Loans for which the required repayments are based on the borrower’s income. The type of student loan that has been available to students since 1998. 
Liable to make repayments The borrower has a remaining loan balance and has reached their Statutory Repayment Due Date (SRDD).  
Maintenance loan Maintenance loans are loans to cover living costs, paid directly to the student. 
Master’s loan Loans issued to students on master’s courses, on the Plan 3 repayment system. They are paid directly to students and can be used to cover fees or living costs.  
Plans 1, 2 and 3 

The ICR loan scheme has been separated into different repayment arrangements called Plans 1, 2 and 3. While they operate in a similar manner, they differ in some ways such as the repayment thresholds, interest rates and the length of borrowers’ repayment terms. 

Plan 1 is the loan system for undergraduate students that started courses before September 2012, Plan 2 the system for undergraduates since September 2012 and for Advanced Learner Loans, and Plan 3 the system for postgraduate loans introduced in 2016. 

Resource Account Budgeting (RAB) charge Used in the DfE annual accounts, this is the proportion of loan outlay that is expected to not be repaid when future repayments are valued in present terms. 
Repayment term The period for which a loan borrower is liable to make repayments based on their income. At the end of a borrowers’ repayment term any remaining loan balance is cancelled. 
Repayment threshold The annual income threshold above which borrowers are required to make repayments on any eligible income. Plan 1 and Plan 2 loan borrowers are required to pay 9% of any earnings above the threshold and Plan 3 borrowers will be required to repay 6%. 
Statutory Repayment Due Date (SRDD) The point a borrower becomes liable to begin repaying a loan, normally the start of the tax year (6 April) after graduating or otherwise leaving their course. After the SRDD borrowers are required to make repayments if their income is above the repayment threshold. 
Stock charge This is the proportion of the total outstanding face value of loans that is expected to not be repaid when future repayments are valued in present terms. 
Transfer proportionThis is the proportion of student loan outlay that is unlikely to be repaid at inception. This is used in public sector finance statistics. See details of the partitioned loan approach for further information.
Tax year The 12-month period starting on 6 April. As a simplification, the student loan models assume that this is the same as the equivalent financial year running for 12 months from 1 April. Repayment thresholds are fixed for the duration of each tax year and borrowers’ SRDDs are at the start of the tax year after they graduate or otherwise leave their course. 
Tuition fee loan Tuition fee loans are loans to cover all or part of the cost of tuition. They are paid directly to the learning provider. 
Voluntary repayment A borrower can at any time choose to repay some or all of their loan balance early, in addition to any repayments they are liable to make based on their income. 

Official statistics

These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics. This can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics: 

  • meet identified user needs; 
  • are well explained and readily accessible; 
  • are produced according to sound methods, and 
  • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest. 

Once statistics have been designated as Official Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed. 

The Department has a set of statistical policies in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics. 

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

Official statistics

These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

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