The Office for Students (OfS) and the Department for Education (DfE) are collaborating to trial higher education short courses as part of the government’s approach to delivering the Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE).
We are funding a number of higher education providers to develop these short courses, which will run from September 2022.
Responding to skills gaps
Currently, only four per cent of young people achieve a higher technical qualification by the age of 25, compared to 33 per cent who get a degree or above. Across a range of sectors, there is growing employer demand for the skills that higher technical education provides.
Evidence suggests that barriers to accessing higher and technical education include inflexibility of course delivery for adult learners and the availability of student finance for short course provision.
About the Lifelong Loan Entitlement
In September 2020, the government announced the introduction of a Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) from 2025. The LLE is a loan entitlement equivalent to four years of post-18 education for students to use over their lifetime. It will be available for both modules and full years of study at higher technical and degree levels (Levels 4-6) in colleges or universities.
The LLE will support increased access to high-quality technical qualifications in a way that allows people to build up learning and skills over time in a way that suits them.
About the short course trial
The Higher Education Short Course trial (HESC) will enable providers to offer prospective students greater choice in how they study, with more flexible options to develop their skills.
The trial is part of the government's piloting of access to a new student finance product designed for learners wanting shorter, flexible provision. It is designed to support the development of the LLE.
The government is keen to hear feedback from students, providers and employers during the development of the LLE, including providers' experiences of adapting and developing flexible and modular courses through the HESC trial.
The trial will test the interest of both students and employers in shorter provision aimed at developing skills needed by employers and the economy. It will also allow the OfS to understand and test whether the current regulatory system works for this type of provision and whether we would need to adapt our approaches.
About the Study Support Bursary
The DfE has made available £2.5 million over three years for bursaries for students taking short courses developed through the HESC trial.
The bursaries, which will help with study costs, will be targeted at students facing the greatest barriers to study. They will be distributed by providers taking part in the HESC trial.
For more information, read our letter sent to the providers participating in the trial.