Short courses that will help bridge the regional skills gap are to be developed at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) as part of a national government campaign.
The Office for Students announced today that DMU will be one of 22 universities across the UK to pilot the new Higher Education Short Courses – a key part of the lifelong learning program government life.
Employers and business champions including Barclays Bank, GE and the East Midlands Chamber have backed DMU’s bid, along with continuing education partners Leicester College and Stephenson College, Coalville.
DMU will work with Leicester College and its partners to develop six courses, all of which will be taught at Level 4, equivalent to first year undergraduate level.
• Cloud computing
• Data analysis
• Data modeling
• Information security management and governance
• Design and development of databases
Research has found that a lack of flexibility and few financing options are a significant barrier for people wishing to access higher education and technical courses.
The OfS plans to use the trial to see how well short courses work in practice for learners, employees, employers and universities. It will also show whether the demand is there to provide pathways for learners to progress to degree courses.
The results will inform the provision of the government’s Loan for Life (LLE) entitlement. It is scheduled to launch in 2025. It promises learners loans equivalent to four years of post-18 education over their lifetime to encourage greater flexibility in learning, especially among adult learners.
Evidence of the skills gap in the region has been published by Leicester, Leicestershire Economic Partnership. Its economic growth strategy places digital skills at the forefront of those most needed by businesses. Over the past 12 months, there have been 7,200 job vacancies in Leicestershire requiring advanced digital skills.
“We are delighted to have passed the OfS challenge competition,” said Dr Carmen Miles, Head of Distance Education at DMU. “Through this, we will have the opportunity to explore and develop innovative approaches to flexible learning alongside our local community, while supporting the development of the digital skills agenda.”
DMU’s expertise in digital, particularly in cybersecurity – recently awarded by the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ – was one of the main reasons why the university was named the one of 22 pilot projects.
The bid team includes Leicester College, Leicester City Council, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, Chartered Institute for Information Security (CIISec), Bauer Media, Barclays Bank, GE Power Conversion, SMB Group (formed of Stephenson College and Brooksby Melton College) and Shelton Machines Limited.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the OfS, said: “I am pleased to announce the successful bidders for these important courses. Courses cover a range of subjects at universities and colleges in all parts of the country. They will help people – including those who may already have significant work experience – learn new skills and retrain for career changes.
“This kind of flexibility is important and will help employers fill the skills gaps that are critical to their businesses and support future economic growth. At the same time, students will be able to benefit from higher education for short periods of time, which will allow them to continue their careers, as well as giving them the opportunity to pursue and obtain a full degree.
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2021