Colleges and universities sought to create new ‘short’ courses in ‘important’ subjects

People looking to study or train throughout their lives will have access to short university or college courses, in a major shake-up of traditional higher education, the Department for Education has announced today.

Universities and further education colleges have been invited to bid for a share of £2million to create new ‘short courses’ across five important subject areas; STEM, healthcare, digital innovation, education and supporting Net Zero.

Providers will be tasked with developing courses under these topics which could be as short as six weeks – or as long as a year if studied part-time – and which will deliver learners with a certificate they can use to build towards future training and employment.

The plans aim to put an end to the perception that traditional three- and four-year degree courses are the only route for those who want to pursue post-16 education. Students will be able to space out their studies and learn at a pace that is right for them, including opting to build up their qualifications over time, within both colleges and universities.

The first short courses will be available from September 2022.

Delivered by the Office for Students, the Higher Education Short Course Challenge Competition will fund up to 20 successful bids from higher education providers to trial short courses aimed at boosting skills and getting more people into work.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “Ensuring everyone is given the opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter their age or life stage, is a vital part of our mission to level up this country.

“By trialling university short courses – backed up by new, flexible student loans – we are giving people the chance to learn at a pace that is right for them.

“Learning is a lifelong journey, and this competition is a critical step in creating courses which meet the needs of learners, employers and our wider economy.”

 The Lifelong Learning Entitlement is a key part of the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which will offer tens of thousands of adults the chance to retrain in later life, gain in-demand skills and open further job opportunities.

 Through this trial, government will work with universities and colleges to pilot a range of high-quality courses, which support sectors vital to our economy, such as healthcare, education and STEM.

The trial will also see the first ever ‘flexible’ student loan arrangements – in which students will have access to a bespoke loan to support them for the duration of their short course.

Chair of the Office for Students, Lord Wharton said: “Higher education plays a vital role in our country’s economic and social prosperity. These new short courses will enable students to study in a way which works for them, rather than committing to a three or four year degree which isn’t for everyone.

“It is important to break down existing barriers around access to higher education, and these courses help to further add to the diversity of England’s well regarded higher education system. “I encourage all universities and colleges to consider applying for this important funding which will help ensure the doors of our universities are open to anyone with the ability to succeed.”

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