Breaking Down the Barriers to Lifelong Learning

Posted By: The Teach Now Team
Breaking Down the Barriers to Lifelong Learning

Government announces new bursaries for upskilling and retraining.

In line with the government’s commitment to give tens of thousands of people the chance to retrain in later life, the Secretary of State for Education James Cleverley announced on the 15th July new bursaries to help people attend more than a hundred new flexible short courses.

Developed in collaboration with employers

‘Short courses’ they may be – but make no mistake, these are not mere stopgaps or ‘top-ups’ but credible higher education courses that have been developed in collaboration with employers to ensure that students finish them not only with an accredited certificate but also with genuinely valuable skills that they can apply straight away to key areas of the workplace.

The three-year trial begins next month (September 2022) with some 22 universities and colleges throughout England and the courses focus on subjects and skills that the country needs and that will fuel economic growth – such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), Healthcare and Education, among many others.

Tuition fee loans

Of course, adults tend to have a lot of financial commitments on their shoulders – and very often the need to pay the mortgage and household bills preclude taking time out of paid employment, even if the eventual outcome might be a more rewarding career and greater income. To break down that barrier to learning, the government has set up tuition fee loans managed by the Student Loans Company and specifically structured to suit the needs of people taking these short courses.

Bursary grants too

For some people, however, a tuition fee loan will not be enough – and those who need extra financial support can apply for a bursary to cover the costs of learning materials such as reference books, childcare, and extra requirements for disabled students.

A new way of thinking about education

The initiative is part of a move towards a new way of thinking about education; a shift away from the rigidity of the two-, three- or four-year degree or diploma learning model to something more modern, flexible and adaptable to people’s working lives. Not only will this dismantle those barriers to learning – it will also enable people to upgrade their skills, build knowledge and retrain at a pace that suits their abilities and their working lives, no matter who they are or where in England they live.

The lifelong learning offer

This current scheme is just the beginning of a wider higher education trial, which itself feeds into the government’s lifelong learning offer, which is due to go live from 2025.