The Department for Education has announced £2.5 million for bursaries to support disadvantaged participants in its three-year trial of the lifelong learning entitlement (LLE).
The lifelong learning entitlement was a key Conservative 2019 manifesto pledge, signalling the government’s desire to increase the number of adults in the UK with qualifications at levels 4 and 5 in subjects with the greatest employer demand, such as technology and engineering.
Twenty-two universities and colleges will trial around 100 “flexible short courses” at levels 4 to 6 from September.
The “targeted” bursary funding will inform “data gathering for the wider Higher Education Short Course Trial”, the DfE said. The time-limited trial of bursaries will inform policymakers ahead of a full-scale rollout of the LLE, mooted for 2025.
The bursaries are to cover small, out-of-pocket expenses linked to study – not more extensive living costs.
The Office for Students (OfS), overseeing the whole LLE trial, will distribute the bursary funding to those providers to support students with travel, childcare, equipment and study materials. They can also use the funding to help learners with “temporary” residential costs if the course requires overnight stays or emergency expenses “in exceptional circumstances”.
The fund can also help disabled students with learning support.
The LLE trial courses range from six weeks to a year of part-time study.
Secretary of state for education James Cleverly said: “This bursary will break down barriers to learning and give everyone the ability to upskill and retrain at a pace which suits them. It doesn’t matter what their personal situation or background is.
“For too long, our education system has focussed on traditional three-year courses which lock students in and give little flexibility. We are now moving towards a more modern way of learning to provide students with the opportunity to reach their potential whilst meeting the needs of the economy”.