Higher education short course trial

Funded projects

The OfS and the Department for Education (DfE) have worked in collaboration to deliver the higher education short course (HESC) Challenge Competition.

The programme will provide £2 million for the below higher education providers to develop short courses:

Course and Level: Healthcare and Professional Skills Level 4

Partners: The Skills Network, Better Futures Multi Academy Trust, The Practice Plus Group, ThinkHigher, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Coventry & Warwickshire LEP, Futures, National Care Forum, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Overview: Coventry University will be running a short course in Healthcare and Professional Skills to address the well-documented shortfalls in workforce and skills across the health and social care sector. In order to address these shortfalls, this short course will raise awareness and develop an understanding of the professional values and standards in the health professions.

Course and Levels: Data Analytics (Level 4), Data Modelling (Level 4), Cyber Security Applications (Level 4), Information Security Management and Governance (Level 4), Programming and Software development (Level 4), Network and Security (Level 4).

Partners: LLEP, East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, GE Power Conversion, SMB Group, Shelton Machines Limited, Leicester City Council, CIISec, Leicester College.

Overview: De Montfort University will be in partnership with Leicester College to design and deliver seven short courses in subject aligning to digital innovation and Net Zero. The courses were built on consultation with local and regional stakeholders and considers how De Montfort University can support the wider agenda for digital skills development. The pilot will test local demand initially at Level 4 and provide flexible pathways, for students to progress to target qualifications.

Courses and Levels: Sustainable Development: Achieving Net Zero (Level 6)

Partners: EQUANS, OLIVE GROUP, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

Overview: Keele University will design and deliver two innovative short courses which align to STEM, Digital Innovation and Net Zero. The proposed short courses address two prominent areas of regional and national skills shortage, and address two priorities of Keele’s role supporting transition to a higher-value, innovation-led local economy.

Courses and Levels: Content Creation, Graphics & Visualisation (Level 4); Video Content Production (Level 4) Interactive User Experience (Level 5); Creative Project Management (Level 5); Content Production for Social Media (Level 5); Apps and Devices (Level 6); Immersive Tech (Level 6)

Partners: Hugh Baird F E College, Agent Academy CIC as industry partner

Overview: Liverpool John Moores will develop a portfolio of seven short courses delivering Digital Innovation to prepare learners with technical and creative skills for work in the growing area of digital content creation. Working with partners and key industry representatives in the region, Liverpool John Moores will bring together technical, creative and business skills that will equip students for work in regional and national skills shortage areas.

Courses: Flexible Learning Pathway (Level 4).

Partners: Greater Manchester Combined Authority, GM-NHS Blood and Transplant Service, Martenscroft Nursery School and Children’s Centres, The Kind Care Company, Greater Manchester Cancer, Priscilla Wakefield House Care Home, The Cooperative.

Overview: Manchester Metropolitan University will deliver its approach through the existing Man Met Rise co-curricular programme. It has aligned 30 short courses to three thematic clusters: Education, Health and Social Care, and Digital Innovation, and a cross-cutting set that provides enhanced interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. Students will navigate the network of courses, in any order or pace offering a truly flexible learning opportunity, with the ability to work towards a CertEd staged award. The students will benefit from opportunities to follow six week courses, and more creatively structured ‘Practicums’ which focus study on concrete collaborative projects.

Newcastle University was also originally awarded funding, however is no longer developing short courses for the purposes of the short course trial.

Courses and Levels: Basics of Creative Coding (Level 4) ; Introduction to UX Design (Level 6); Creative Coding (Level 6)

Partners: Foolproof, Neontribe, Thyngs, Tech East, Chantry Place Retail (Savills), Norfolk County Council.

Overview: Norwich University of the Arts will develop two new short courses at Levels 4 and 6, to meet regional demand for higher level creative technical skills. Both courses were conceived and developed in collaboration with regional employers in direct response to skills gaps that inhibit growth. The short courses are: The basics of Creative Coding and Introduction to UX Design. The new courses will be delivered within the Norwich University of the Arts philosophy of creative pedagogy; that learners develop through active, supported, practical exploration.

Courses and Levels: Developing Leadership Skills in the Early Years Sector (Level 5); Developing Data Analytics skills in the Healthcare Sector (Level 5).

Partners: Doncaster Borough Council, Sheffield City Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Grace Owen and Broomhall Nursery Schools, Abbeydale Cottage Nursery, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Kirklees Council, Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Trust.

Overview: Sheffield Hallam will be running two short courses as part of this pilot; Developing Leadership Skills in the Early Years Sector; Developing Data Analytics skills in the Healthcare Sector. The development of the Early Years Leadership short course responds to issues of leadership raised in the Educational Policy Institute Early Years Workforce review (2019). The Developing Data Analytics short course responds to the NHS Long Term Plan (2019) and Topol Review (2019), specifically in the context of upskilling managers working in the healthcare sector in different aspects of data analytics and management information. The aim is to enhance learner skills in different aspects of data manipulation, information, and knowledge to support better quality decision making and organisational performance.

Courses and Levels: Designing Net Zero Buildings (Levels 4-5); Operating Effective Net Zero Buildings (Levels 4-5); Procurement for the Net Zero Built Environment (Levels 5-6); Net Zero Leadership and Management (Levels 5-6).

Partners: Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA), The Climate Framework, London Energy, Transformation Initiative (LETI), Lambeth Council, Southwark Council, Ashden, Clarion Housing Group.

Overview: South Bank University is building on its strengths in the built environment by developing vocation programmes by creating a set of four short courses on the theme of achieving a Net Zero carbon built environment. Working with industry partners they will be running the following courses: Designing Net Zero Buildings, Operating Effective Net Zero Buildings, Procurement for the Net Zero Built Environment and Net Zero Leadership and Management.

Courses and Levels: Network and Cloud Based Computing (Level 4); Web Based Computing and Programming (Level 4); Infection Prevention and Control (Level 5); Alternative Energy in Construction (Level 4); Preparing for Carbon Net Zero (Level 4).

Partners: City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, Burton and South Derbyshire College, South Staffordshire College, Stone Group, Synectic Solutions, Codeweavers, St Modwen, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Stormking Plastics PLC.

Overview: Staffordshire University and its college partners will be delivering five courses in subjects aligning to digital innovation and achieving Net Zero. Courses have been chosen, following consultation with employer partners, to prioritise current skills gaps, developed from existing modules and aligned to progression routes for learners. The courses will embed employers into course design, delivery and assessment to identify the most relevant skills from existing provision to enhance learners’ employer value. The providers and employers will investigate a range of innovative pedagogic approaches to ensure accessibility and transferability are maximised.

Courses and Levels: Let’s get coding with Python (Level 4); Immersive Technologies and AR (Level 4); Ethical Hacking and Cyber Security (Level 5); Databases and Business Intelligence Solutions (Level 5) ; AI and Machine Learning for transforming businesses (Level 6); IoT and Could Systems; (Level 6) (Net Zero) Sustainable Engineering Principles (Level 4); Engineering Mathematics Applications (Level 4); Digital Engineering (Level 5); Sustainable Manufacturing (Level 5); Innovation to NetZero (Level 6); Industry 4.0 and Process Automation (Level 6) (Healthcare) Application of Health Sciences (Level 4); Cell and Microbiology (Level 4); Human Development and Health (Level 5); Bioinformatics (Level 5) ; Health Technologies (Level 6); Human Ageing, Disease and Death (Level 6).

Partners: North East England Chamber of Commerce, Animmersion, Siemens, Robert McAlpine, Northumbrian Water, VirtualArmour, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, Dave Casey Electrical Contractors, PD Ports Limited.

Overview: Teesside University will be running courses which relate to Digital Innovation, NetZero and Healthcare. The course syllabuses will be developed in collaboration with industry partners, who will also have input into delivery through providing real-world case studies and guest lectures. The proposed short courses are focused on demand for skills in the North East region and nationally which has been further exasperated by COVID-19.

Courses and Levels: Healthy development through childhood and beyond (Level 4); Mental health attachment and trauma (Level 5); Contributing to the support of people on the autism spectrum (Level 5); Disability, inclusion and social justice (Level 4), Working together to safeguard young people (Level 4), Play learning and pedagogy (Level 4), Enabling independence through maths, English and communication (Level 5).

Partners: AutonoMe, North Somerset Council, Olympus Academy Trust

Overview: University Centre Weston/Weston College will deliver six short courses in subjects aligned to healthcare and education. The short courses were developed following scoping exercises with employers to ascertain skill shortages and demand within these sectors. Course content, delivery methods and resources will be developed with outlined employers, consultation with wider stakeholder groups and input from dedicated learner voice sessions.

Courses and Levels: Gateway Certificate in Professional Education (Level 4).

Partners: Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, Warrington Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Progressive Energy Ltd, The Federation of Small Businesses, Motrac Research Engineering Ltd, Altimex Ltd, Warrington and Vale Royal College.

Overview: University of Chester has undertaken significant engagement with key employment sectors, particularly healthcare and those related to industrial decarbonisation and Net Zero. This work has highlighted that these sectors are evolving rapidly, and so are the skills required to undertake existing and emerging roles. In response to these findings the University of Chester will be developing new 10-credit modules that learners can build into a 30-credit short course in Change and Resilience.

Courses and Levels: Introduction to programming and databases (Level 4); Introduction to statistical analysis and data science in R (Level 4) ; Introduction to programming for data science & AI (Level 5); Visualisation in R (Level 6); Predictive modelling (Level 6).

Partners: East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust (MSE FT), PROVIDE, Suffolk County Council.

Overview: In collaboration with partners, the University of Essex will be co-designing and developing a set of short courses aiming to support much-needed digital skills with the specific emphasis being on courses required to support an organisation’s digital transformation through the use of data. The University of Essex will develop five short courses at Levels 4-6. The courses will be developed by drawing from existing modules by adapting and extending them to ensure that they both fit the employers’ needs and learner demand.

Course and Level: Fundamentals of Space Systems, Regulations and Applications (Level 5).

Partners: The National Space Academy, Alden Legal, Satellite Finance Network.

Overview: The University of Leicester will be developing a number of short courses in Fundamentals of Space Systems, Regulations and Applications. Nationally over the last 18 months, the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy has explicitly recognised space capabilities and growth of the UK space sector as part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure and a high-priority area for government support. These short courses directly align with government’s increased focus on space technology.

Course and Level: Agile software Engineering (Level 6).

Partners: IBM, Fuzzy Labs, thestartupfactory.tech.

Overview: The University of Manchester will be delivering one short course called Agile Software Engineering. This short course has been developed to address the national and international demand for software engineers. The course will offer a combination of an industry co-designed syllabus and innovative research-driven practice and feedback tools tailored for flexible learners, creating a unique opportunity for lifelong learners to enter this dynamic and fast-moving profession.

Courses and Levels: Digital Design & Fabrication (Level 4), Data Driven Technical Design (Level 5).

Partners: Babcock International, Plymouth Manufacturers Group, Real Ideas Organisation.

Overview: Leveraging Plymouth’s position as the UK’s first Fab City and in response to identified local and national industry skills gaps, the University of Plymouth will be piloting two new short courses. Digital Fabrication Studio and Data Studio aim to develop advanced data-driven skills applied to design engineering and manufacturing; including data management, and parametric and generative techniques applied to manufacturing and production.

Courses and Levels: Supporting Successful Learning; Education Practice Certificate in Lifelong Learning Improving and outcomes in Special and Inclusive Education (Level 4).

Partners: Teach Wimbledon, Richards Lodge High School, Merton, Perseid School, Merton.

Overview: The University of Roehampton, in collaboration with its employer partners, has developed two innovative courses in education: Supporting Successful Learning, Certificate in Lifelong Learning, Improving outcomes in Special and Inclusive Education. These courses will address and upskill teaching assistants who are a vital part of the education workforce to improve pupil outcomes.

Courses and Levels: Digital Capabilities (Level 5); Data Analytics and Machine Learning (Level 4); Immersive Website Design and Development (Level 4); Creative Coding (Level 4); Data Analysis for Business (Level 4); Enhancing your Digital Presence Skills for Business (Level 4).

Partners: ARUP, Peninsula, AVimmerse Ltd, Matmi New Media, TalkTalk, Salford City Council, Northern Care Alliance NHS Group.

Overview: The University of Salford, working with industry partners, will develop six short courses from its existing undergraduate portfolio. The courses are Digital Capabilities, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, Immersive Website Design and Development, Creative Coding, Data Analysis for Business and Enhancing your Digital Presence Skills for Business. These are all focused around improving digital competency. The courses have been devised by reviewing existing content and co-design with employers to explore gaps and shape curriculum.

Courses and Levels: Zero Carbon Buildings (Environments and Materials) (Level 4); Zero Carbon Buildings (Technology and Modelling) (Level 5); Zero Carbon Buildings (Energy Management and Performance) (Level 6); Sustainable Urban Communities (Level 4).

Partners: Arup Engineering, NatWest Bank, City of Bristol College.

Overview: UWE Bristol and partners will develop a series of credit-bearing short courses on Zero Carbon and Sustainable Built Environment skills. These courses will be titled; Zero Carbon Buildings and Healthy Sustainable Communities. The courses will directly support the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA) ambition to be a driving force for clean and inclusive growth, committing to Net Zero by 2030.

Courses and Levels: Legal and Regulatory Frameworks in Housing (Level 4,) Working Smarter and Greener (Level 6), Cybersecurity, Architecture and Operations (Level 5), Ethical Hacking (Level 5), Internet of Things (Level 6), Network Security (Level 5).

Partners: Bromford (Housing Association), Spotless AI Ltd, Kinetic 6 Ltd, C4i Systems, City of Wolverhampton Council (Digital & Social work departments), Purple Frog, Wolverhampton Homes.

Overview: The University of Wolverhampton will be running six short courses from Levels 4 to 6, two will focus on Housing and Social Care and four on Digital innovation. The courses have been developed with local partners including housing associations and digital and technology businesses. The courses are informed by the current skills gap and are based on evidence of current and future demand, they will address local and regional skills shortages in these areas.

Courses and Levels: Supporting communication, speech and language in the early years (Level 4); Early years curriculum, assessment and planning (Level 5); Working with parents to support children and young people's learning (Level 4); Supporting children and young people's development and learning (Level 4); Planning for learning (Level 5); Motivation to learn and learning behaviours (Level 5); Inclusive approaches to supporting learners with SEND (Level 5); Psychology of teaching and learning (Level 6); Mental health and wellbeing of children and young people (Level 4); Creating enabling environments (Level 4); Therapeutic approaches to supporting children experiencing adversity (Level 5); Coaching & Mentoring (Level 5); Autism and complex needs (Level 5); Supporting the mental health of children and young people with SEND (Level 6); Children and young people - the environment and sustainable futures (Level 6); Multiagency working (Level 6).

Partners: The Learning Institute, Worcestershire Children First, Prince Henry’s Teaching School Hub, Rivers C. of E. Academy Trust, Aspirations Academies Trust, Westcountry Schools Trust, the Learning Academy.

Overview: The University of Worcester will be running 16 short courses in Education to help learners upskill and gain the knowledge they need to support some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in our society. This will support the government’s education catch up agendas post COVID-19. Through consultations with employers, it identified a particular need for courses focused on supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the majority courses will specifically focus on this area.

Further information

Visit GOV.UK's information for learners to see which short courses are currently open for recruitment.

A full list of courses included in the trial is also available.

For more information please email [email protected].

Published 17 December 2021
Last updated 12 July 2023
12 July 2023
Minor updates to courses, and links to GOV.UK list of courses.
16 May 2022
Minor updates to courses

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