Higher education short course trial

Frequently asked questions

Course flexibility

The purpose of the trial is for the courses to be flexible, therefore entry requirements are at the discretion of the higher education provider.

One of the requirements in the bidding guidance was that courses developed through the trial must enable learners to progress to a full degree if they wish.

This trial will help us understand if and how learners are able to stack and progress their learning.

Yes. However, part of the aim of the trial is to also test the new higher education short course loans.

Yes. We are not prescriptive on how the courses are funded. It is at the discretion of providers how to fund the courses. However, we do not encourage courses to be developed as continuing professional development for particular employers.

We hope to get to a point where this a possibility and we encourage providers to work together to develop means of credit transfer.

Credit recognition and transfer was featured in the government’s Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) consultation which closed on 6 May 2022. The government will respond to this consultation formally in due course.

Course promotion

Details of the Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) can be found on GOV.UK, including the speech where it was first announced and the 2022 consultation. (It was initially called the Lifelong Loan Entitlement.)

We have published a list of the higher education providers participating in the trial and their courses.

There is also a GOV.UK webpage that lists short courses on the trial that are currently open for recruitment. 

We encourage providers to advertise their short courses for potential learners.

We have published a list of the higher education providers participating in the trial and their available courses. We will continue to update this list as needed.

To see which short courses are currently open for recruitment, please check GOV.UK's information for learners webpage

If a course is not listed on this webpage, it does not mean the course is not running for the duration of the trial. A full list of courses included in the trial (including those not currently open for recruitment) is also available on GOV.UK.

We encourage providers to work together if possible to increase the profile of the short courses.

The trial aims to test the demand from students for short courses. We are not prescribing the type of learner these courses will appeal to. It is up to providers to market their courses to potential learners.

Study Support Bursary

Bursary funding will be available to providers taking part in the HESC trial. Those providers who choose to access it will be allocated funding yearly over a three-year period, from 2022-23 to 2024-25.

The amount allocated to each provider will be proportionate to the number of courses due to be delivered, course size, and projected student numbers.

Providers will be able to award bursaries to students on courses that are part of the HESC trial and who met other eligibility criteria.

For more information, see our letter sent to providers participating in the HESC trial.

Bursaries may be available for students on courses that are part of the HESC trial and who have taken out a HESC tuition fee loan. Students will also need to meet eligibility criteria set by their provider.

The Study Support Bursary applies only to the time-limited HESC trial. Broader decisions on LLE maintenance support are still subject to government policy decisions. 

Student loans

Full details of how to apply for higher education short course tuition fee loans are available on GOV.UK.

Yes - rules around funding for ELQ students (students who study for a qualification which is equivalent to or lower than a qualification already held) have been suspended for the trial.

Higher education short course loans are available for all who meet eligibility requirements.

No. The standard entitlement for a higher education short course tuition fee loan is calculated in isolation from other higher education funding entitlement.

Any future higher education study will be unaffected by accessing any or all of the short course loans in the trial period.

The only previous study that will be taken into account is in regard to the four higher education short course tuition fee loans available to the student and them staying within this allowance.

For the duration of the trial period, students undertaking higher education short courses will be able to apply for tuition fee loans only. No maintenance loan support will be made available.

No. The trial period begins in September 2022 and lasts until 31 August 2025. Within that period, students can access up to four loans starting from any point.

The latest a course can start to be finished before the end of the trial period is 31 July 2025.

The expected turnaround time is six to eight weeks.

Whether a student qualifies for a HESC loan depends on their:

  • course
  • nationality or residency status.

Full information about higher education short course loans and eligibility is available from GOV.UK.


The purpose of this trial is to test what success looks like, therefore we will be looking at the data as the programme progresses rather than setting success parameters at this stage.

The purpose of this trial is to understand who these courses appeal to and which progression routes they take on completion.

Published 16 May 2022
Last updated 12 July 2023

No revisions made

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