Colleges have been invited to bid for a share of a £2 million fund to develop new short higher education courses in “important” subject areas.

The Department for Education has today announced 20 colleges and universities will be chosen to develop level 4 to 6 courses between six weeks and a year in STEM, healthcare, digital innovation, education, and supporting net zero.

The government hopes the ‘Higher Education Short Course Challenge’, being run through the Office for Students, will “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”.


Short courses will let people ‘learn at a pace right for them’

Colleges and universities have until September 28 to put in bids for this next step in the roll-out of the government’s lifelong learning entitlement, which is being introduced through the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill currently going through parliament.

The short courses will be used to trial “flexible” student loan arrangements which will support students for the duration of the programme.

short courses
Michelle Donelan

Universities minister Michelle Donelan said trialling these courses, backed up by the new flexible loans will “give people the chance to learn at a pace that is right for them”.

The competition to find colleges and universities is “a critical step in creating courses which meet the needs of learners, employers and our wider economy,” she added.


Training will have to benefit learners and employers

The Office for Students has released guidance on entering the bidding.

Colleges and universities will have to demonstrate how the courses will benefit learners and the value the training will have for employers.

Winning bidders will be announced in November, with courses expected to start in September 2022.

Questions about this scheme or the funding competition should be directed to

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