The second round of the government’s “skills injection fund” that aims to boost delivery of level 4 and 5 higher technical qualifications (HTQs) will involve higher per student funding rates.
Up to £48.8 million is being made available to colleges, universities and private providers to spend on specialist equipment, facilities, and upskilling staff to deliver HTQs across the next two financial years.
The funding is expected to ensure there are “widespread credible alternatives” to a three-year degree ahead of the introduction of the lifelong loan entitlement in 2025.
Skills, apprenticeships and higher education minister Robert Halfon opened the fund for bids today. He said: “Boosting funding to support the delivery of HTQs and ensuring that schools and colleges have the space they need to provide all students with top notch training is essential to achieving parity of esteem with traditional degrees and plugging skills gaps in key sectors.”
Round one of the skills injection fund involved dishing out £21 million to 85 providers in 2022/23 – which was £11 million short of the £32 million on offer.
The new £48.8 million pot consists of £29.8 million for capital costs such as specialist equipment, perpetual software licenses and refurbishing existing facilities; and £19 million for resources such as upskilling technician staff, curriculum planning, or learner recruitment events.
It will also involve higher per student funding rates compared to the first round.
The formula for grants will be based on predicated learner numbers, with funding capped at £6,667 per student for most applicants. The basic cap in round one was £5,000.
However, if the bid comes from an IoT the per learner funding rate will receive a 20 per cent uplift to £8,000, while providers located in a designated “local skills area” – places where skills-based interventions are taking place as part of the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda – will receive a 10 per cent uplift to £7,333.
IoT and local skills area uplifts on offer in round one of the fund were 10 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
Colleges, higher education institutions, independent training providers and Institutes of Technology can bid for the funding. Providers with an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating and those not registered with the Office for Students are not allowed to apply.
The fund is for HTQs only, and for providers preparing to deliver across all 15 occupational routes up to academic year 2025/26 when the lifelong loan entitlement will be introduced.
DfE guidance states that if a provider has already received funding through the HTE growth fund, or through the HTE skills injection fund round one, they can apply again for funding to deliver a “different HTQ within the same route or a different occupational route”.
For example, if a provider received funding to deliver a network engineer qualification it could not apply for funding to deliver another level 4 and 5 network engineering qualification but could apply to deliver a new software developer HTQ.
The DfE said there were no minimum learner numbers, but did expect a “viable cohort”, and warned that funding clawbacks could be used where providers failed to reach 80 per cent of their predicted numbers.
Applications must be submitted by July 21. Outcomes are planned to be communicated in November.
UPDATE: The list of 66 winners to this fund was published on November 10 and can be viewed here.