From education to employment

New bursaries to help learners to upskill and retrain

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Learners who could struggle with study-related costs such as books and childcare fees can now apply for up to £2.5 million worth of targeted bursary funding to help them access new higher education ‘short courses’.

As part of the government’s pledge to offer tens of thousands of adults the chance to retrain in later life, gain in-demand skills and open further job opportunities, 22 universities and colleges across England will be offering over 100 short courses to students from this September as part of a three year trial.

Developed with the help of employers, the courses give learners the flexibility to gain an accredited certificate and valuable skills that can be applied in the work place in key areas. These courses that could be as short as six weeks – or as long as a year if studied part-time –  in subjects vital for economic growth including STEM, healthcare and education.

To support this flexible study, learners can now apply for tuition fee loans created especially for the short courses to support them for the duration of their study and administered by the Student Loans Company.

Alongside this, bursary grants will be available for learners who need extra financial support to pay for additional costs associated with study. Anyone applying for a loan for one of these ‘short courses’ who faces financial barriers to their learning could be eligible for a bursary. This includes the costs of learning materials such as books, childcare fees and learning support for disabled students.

Secretary of State for Education James Cleverly said:

“This bursary will break down barriers to learning and give everyone the ability to upskill and retrain at a pace which suits them. It doesn’t matter what their personal situation or background is.

“For too long, our education system has focussed on traditional three-year courses which lock students in and give little flexibility. We are now moving towards a more modern way of learning to provide students with the opportunity to reach their potential whilst meeting the needs of the economy”.

Paula Sussex, CEO of SLC, said:

“SLC is playing a fundamental role in the delivery of the Government’s HE reform agenda. To deliver lifelong learning, we will be building an entirely new system of student finance for England; providing tuition fee loans for these short courses is an important first step in that process. Along with DfE and sector representatives, we will use this experience to help us support the planned introduction of the government’s lifelong learning offers.”

The scheme will be part of the data gathering for the wider Higher Education Short Course Trial, which will support the development of the government’s lifelong learning offer which will be introduced from 2025. The bursary is for the time-limited trial only, as broader decisions on the lifelong learning maintenance support are still subject to government policy decisions.

  • The 22 universities and colleges offering the Level 4-6 courses from September are as follows: Coventry University, De Montfort University, Keele University, Liverpool John Moores, Manchester Metropolitan University, Newcastle University, Norwich University of the Arts, Sheffield Hallam, South Bank University Enterprises, Staffordshire University, Teeside University, University Centre Weston/Weston College, University of Chester, University of Essex, University of Leicester, University of Manchester, University of Plymouth, University of Roehampton, University of Salford, University of the West of England (UWE), University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester
  • The courses are stand alone and upon completion learners will be awarded with an official certificate which can be used to build towards future training and employment.
  • The bursary, which will be distributed by providers, will provide targeted funds to students applying for a tuition fee loan to help with study-related costs where these may form a barrier to undertaking study. The fund is £2.5M over 3 years to be administered by the Office for Students to providers with guidance. Bursary funds can be used for:
    • study support costs such as books, course material, trips not included in course fees
    • travel costs for getting to and from the course
    • equipment not included in the course fee
    • childcare
    • learning and learner support for disabled students
    • emergency costs for students, in exceptional circumstances
    • temporary residential costs where the student is required to attend a clinical setting
  • These providers were successful in an Office for Students Challenge Competition and received a share of £2M worth of funding to develop the courses.
  • The Lifelong Loan Entitlement will provide individuals with a loan entitlement to the equivalent of 4 years of post-18 education to use over their lifetime. It will be available for both modular and full-time study at higher technical and degree levels (levels 4 to 6), regardless of whether they are provided in colleges or universities.

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