New trial for short higher education courses

The Office for Students (OfS) has confirmed today that it will launch a new Challenge Competition to fund innovative projects delivering short courses in higher education – forming part of the government’s approach to delivering its new Lifelong Loan Entitlement.

touch screen with finger pointing to choices around learning and skills

As part of the trial the OfS will fund new courses that enable flexible, blended learning alongside existing employment and other commitments. The project will also test the interest of both students and employers in shorter provision aimed at developing skills the economy needs.

We have published initial guidance for universities and colleges entering the competition. We have hosted a webinar which included a Q&A session and presentations by the Office for Students, DfE, and the Student Loans Company (SLC). Watch the webinar recording.

Update: We have now published full guidance on the Challenge Competition.

Chris Millward Director of Fair Access and Participation said:

‘The Challenge Competition opens up opportunities for the sector to develop courses that will fit more easily into the busy lives of working people. They will provide a means to gaining higher skills to meet the changing needs of our economy.

‘We hope to fund a wide range of subjects during the trial, through both technical and non-technical courses in areas such as education, digital innovation, healthcare and achieving net-zero emissions.

‘Learners need this kind of freedom to choose what works for them and have opportunities to upskill and progress throughout their lives.’

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, said:

‘Regardless of their age or personal circumstances, many learners need to access courses in a more flexible way.

‘We want to empower individuals to take control of their learning by giving them real choice in how and when they choose to study. To fit study around work, family, and personal commitments. To retrain and upskill as their needs and the needs of the economy changes.

‘We are excited to be trialling higher education short courses across Levels 4-6 in an important step as we build towards the Lifelong Loan Entitlement.

‘Around 20 providers will have the opportunity to participate in a unique trial bringing together employers, providers, and learners to test a truly ambitious and world leading system.’

See more information on the short course trial
Published 21 July 2021
Last updated 25 August 2021
25 August 2021
Added link to full guidance for the competition.

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